Three Poems – Donney Rose


Tips on Attempting to Write a Poem Worthy of Your Mother For Her Funeral

When they tell you to just write what’s in your heart
they being the voices in your head
ask them to be honest about if they plan to
criticize you if the metaphors ain’t as pungent
if they will grade your imagery on a curve
when all your eyes can see is water
when that water is ruining all the snapshots
when your brain is intentional about
deleting images
of her most nurturing moments
Your words will never be eulogy enough
do not attempt to encapsulate every memory
into this one moment
you cannot do her justice this way
there’s not enough room on the program
for your heart to bleed out all the things
she has ever meant to you
consider a room full of family, friends and associates
as a collective sea of mourners
drawn together not of their own volition
try not to let your grief-stricken language
hold their emotions hostage any longer than necessary
for two hours they will all be drowning with you
but only one of the bodies in that room
will leave entombed.

Her Life (Kinda) Matters

Black man talk to Black folks about
Black man death
give him megaphone
Black man talk to Black folks about
Black woman death
about Black woman ravaged body
give him duct tape
give him resistance
Black man knows that every
dead Black woman body don't
make it to the morgue
sometimes those bodies are forced
to stay alive and watch the thieves of
their livelihood do things like
score touchdowns
or preach sermons
or sing songs
or make movies
or live in the room across the hall
I will not check a gender box
to determine the value of the stolen pulse
I will not deal in equality
solely when the deck is stacked
in my favor.


It was one of those nights when mom
decided to blow caution to the wind
Kool cigarette curled inside her arthritic finger
sitting outside the house
on the hand-made bench dad built
a glorious spring night serving as the backdrop
for what had to be the millionth time
we cyphered
I don’t remember the subject of our conversation
I only remember her asking me
if I had one of them Black ‘N’ Milds
she learned of my smoking habit by happenstance
in the same conversation she learned of
the occasional illegal drink I would down
at the Reggae club
on those nights when I was exchanging
the gospel of the pulpit
for the gospel of the open mic
I handed her a Black
pulled one out for myself
she took a slow drag
complimented its flavor
I lit the slender body of my cigar
drew the nicotine through the plastic tip
and between exhales
we silently accepted a new truth
Her little boy was becoming a man
a survivor of a life that began hazy at best
we were just beginning to make ashes
of her overprotective nature
just starting to spark a new relationship
and with the flick of a lighter
the light of my life
flamed out.

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