Winning Poets’ Winning Poem – My Heritage. A love poem

Because Black is not a shadow

you can out run

and I don’t want to

but, I didn’t always know that

like I didn’t always know

Black; not a shirt you can take off

quiet in your closet, save

for the days it matches your shoes


you can not choose

to iron it smooth as a bullet

and wear it out the house.

You are always wearing it

out the house.

Black is the house


because a lily of the field

cannot undress

and be some other dream

I thank God

I stopped longing

for someone else’s waking


because blood was spilt

for me

to be


without apologies

is not a metaphor


because Granddad was a tall

and wise and Black man

because being, Black

man, meant boy

always ‘black boy’ even at 52

and Granddad wouldn’t tip his hat

to that


so he stopped wearing hats

even though he loved them

because sometimes you must give up

a part in order for the whole

to remain



as a mourning song

which sounds like praise

loving what is lost is a kind of joy too

and Black makes sweet music

even from the bitterest root



Grandma: Black,

built a home of this house

in the land they found you in

then told you, you could not claim

because you stayed

because Black stays


Mom: Black,

because you left

because you said you would

come back

and Grandpa died before you could

and Uncle died before you could

but you did not lose hope

because Black does not loose hope


you made a promise of you return,

even when you did not know

if you could keep it


because Black is the promise


you said you would

and then you did

you came back     Black

as heavens own holy song

with 4 little Black faces in tow


me and my 3 sisters,


in your shadow


because you came home

because you fought to bring us home

because Black always finds a way home


because everything I know about love

is held in the hues

of earth and night and dirt

and soil and blood and Black


because I am the dream

just now began

because I am every shade

swallowed in the mouth of Black


because I am Black

I must be Black

must be all Black





must hold Black close as blood

will tender it,

dear as my own

God given name




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