Some sign of nature
By Monica Hand

That day on the laundry bench outside, an escape
from heat of dryers people folding; that day
the homeless man from the park nearby out his mind
out half his clothes can’t chase me back inside
where people spin and washers moan; that day I see
two baby birds burrow their beaks in cracks
they want for food, unearth crumbs the absent-
minded drop as they rush away; that day
at the Long Island Railroad station every seat taken
by someone down on her luck waiting
as police sweep through with their sticks, demand
those sitting show their tickets or leave –
the woman next to me gets up, men from the back
where it’s dark leave; a woman with the wrong ticket
leaves – mad, pushing her bags; someone else
with the right ticket has to stay awake; that day
he overlooks me – just my luck;
in the news pictures – smiling pundits, the famous
poems read on the subway – bear, wolf
that day I walk aside half-starving trees

Freedom speaks
By Monica Hand

I am

a. what you say I am
b. sold like gold, ivory, spices, skins or precious stones
c. sold on auction block, with shackle lock, whip and chains
d. butler, cook, mammy or maid
e. all of the above
f. none of the above

Rank in order of importance

__ bomb, pyre, petrified flames
__ four little dead girls in ponytails
__ scarred tongue, combustion-tongue, no tongue

Fill in the blanks

Somali pirates                           on the open sea
Gangsta rappers                       love
Blacks on Wall Street               give
Clarence Thomas                      didn’t
Langston Hughes                      is

Multiple choice (circle one)

a. no hands, no feet
b. blink, cataracts
c. transformation by the renewing of the mind
d. good fuck, okay fuck
e. none of the above
f. all of the above

Sounds like

a. riot
b. belly laugh, side split, thigh slap
c. joke, gag, jest, jape
d. debauchery, revelry, bacchanal ritual
e. none of the above
f. all of the above

dear Nina:
By Monica Hand

she tells me that the slave cabins
are still there…and the graves of the slaves
are there, unmarked….the graves of my family

                                                                 - Lucille Clifton

When Lucille died, it was as if I heard God’s voice
– I suddenly knew what I was missing

Not like the woman across from me on the subway
– missing her front teeth

Or the homeless man with his scary voice
– missing the threat of a loaded gun

Lucille knew where she come from she comes
from Dahomey women, women with one breast

The women I am from are wild; beautiful
This is what I know

When Lucille died, I tell my grand daughter
We are like Lucille trouble in the waters can’t kill us

Monica A Hand is a poet and book artist currently living in Harlem, USA. Her manuscript, me and Nina received a 2010 Kinereth Gensler Award and her poems have appeared in Aunt Chloe, Black Renaissance Noire, The Sow’s Ear, Drunken Boat, Beyond the Frontier, African-American Poetry for the 21st Century, Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade and elsewhere. She holds a MFA in Poetry and Poetry in Translation from Drew University, and is a founding member of Poets for Ayiti.