Observe the kick-ass angle of our crowns.
Chicago girls just keep coming back.
They don't hear you,
they don't see you,
they ain't never really needed you.
They got the Holy Ghost and Garfield Park,
on one city block, they got a hundred ways to buy chicken,
they jump rope nasty and barefoot in the dirt,
they got the ooh achie koo,
the pink plastic clothesline underhand,
they got the slip bone. They got the Gwen in them.
Any jazz could be ours, and her jazz was.
Unflinching in riotous headwrap
and thick, two-shades-too stockings,
she penned the soundtrack of we because she knew,
because she was skinny early church and not bending,
because no man could ever hold her the way hurt did,
because she could peer at you over those Coke-bottle specs,
fast gal, and turn the sorry sight of you into her next poem.
Each year she stays gone, we colored girls aimlessly bop
and search dangerous places for music.
Chicago bows its huge head, grudgingly accepts spring.
God, if there is a You, there must surely still be a her.
Stop the relentless seasons. Show us Your face,
explain Your skewered timing.
Your wacky choice of angels.
Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah
(Coffee House Press, 2012)