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Mahogany L. Browne

Redbone Dances

If you ain’t never watched your parents kiss
ain’t neva have them teach you ‘bout the way
the lips will to bend and curve against a lover’s

If you ain’t never watched the knowing nod
of sweethearts worn away and soft
as a speaker box’s blown out hiss

If you ain’t never witnessed the glue
that connected your mother and father
-- how they fused their single selves
into the blunt fist of parents

If you ain’t sure there was a time when
their eyes held each other like a nexus,
    only breaking the lock to dip dark marbles
into the certain corners of a shot glass

If you ain’t never known a Saturday night
slick with shiny promises and clouds
wrapped wet in a Pendegrass croon

If you ain’t never learned
how to let a man hold you close
so close      …it looks like a crawl

If you ain’t had the memory
of your mother and father sliding
hip to hip. Their feet whisper
a slow shuffle and shift. Her hand
on his neck, grip his shoulder, urgent,
while Aretha shames her
-- stealing woman secrets --
to a man that will pass his daughters
a bad temper with hands like bowls.

If you ain’t never watched a man
lean into a woman   His eyes
a boat sliding across bronze freckles
    His hands
pillared in her auburn hair   Her
throat     clenches,    holds the urge
to hear how her voice sound against
the wind   of him

If your skin ain’t never fathom the heat
of something as primal and necessary
as this…

Then you know not how the hurricane
of two bodies can create the prospect
of a name,     how the name
sound like: a blues song;     a woman’s
heart breaking;   a    promised sunrise

From the record player     skipping
    the sky     looks


Mahogany Browne, host and curator of the Friday Night Slam Series at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, is a Cave Canem Fellow who facilitates performance poetry and writing workshops throughout the country. She is the editor of His Rib: Stories, Poems & Essays by HER and author of Destroy Rebuild & Other Reconstructions of the Human Muscle and Swag. She has released five LPs, including the live album, Sheroshima.


See the full list of 2013 Emerging Poets Fellows