Saturday, June 4, 2022




           after Miguel James

When I begin a poem I often  do so

because I love black people.

When I choose not to write

a  poem I still love black people.

If I write I love black people

it's because  I love black people.

If  I don't write  I love black people

I still love black people. Every metaphor,

every simile is rooted in the fact

I love black people. Even if I forgo

figurative language altogether  I still

love black people. Whenever I start

an essay or a short story or novel

I can feel all the way to the very bottom

of my soul that I love black people.

Those times when I stare

at the blank white screen or page

I may despair that I cannot show

or testify how much I love black

people and want other black people

and all people to love black people

and to say and urge others to say

publicly that they love black

people which is to say I have learned

to love myself and to love black people

and to recognize that despite all that

we face in the world from the moment

of our birth to the day we die

that even the black period that will end

this poem is a sign and seal

to me and anyone who cares

that I love black people.


John Keene


New  & Selected Poems

Song Cave, 2021