Fall 2009 • Vol. XXXI No. 4 Poetry |

Understanding the New Genuine Negro Hero

Appreciates us, our range of high worries and low joys breaking wholeness into flava —the folk and uppity nuances of "being black" not "blackness" from the triflin' to the bougie, the coon to the revolutionary, bamma to buppie. A ghetto celeb might kick it with a hood rat, but a for real for real sistuhgirl ain't likely to be seriously stepped to by Big Willie or a bailer. Without the Mountainbottom, the Mountaintop is just another government name. I didn't Overcome. This the same me I was before skin's melanin whip, coloring color the color I want to color color, not the color color be coloring me. Mighty Whitey loves the cold, so soon as I see a noose somebody gettin' they aesthetic whooped. Go'ne make that disrespectful paper. More melon than water is good for you, seeds too.

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Thomas Sayers Ellis is the author of The Maverick Room and Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems (Graywolf Press). His work has recently appeared in Poetry, Pluck!, Paris Review, and The Best American Poetry 2015. He is a photographer and a founding member of Heroes Are Gang Leaders, and is currently visiting writer at the City College of New York.

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Cowbell

By Thomas Sayers Ellis

Appreciates us, our range of high worries and low joys breaking wholeness into flava —the folk and uppity nuances of "being black" not "blackness" from the triflin' to the bougie, […]

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