Poem of the Week

Today’s poem of the week for National Poetry Month is by the literary and cultural critic Fred Moten, from his 2010 book B Jenkins. It is an elegy to his mother and an inquiry into language, music, performance, improvisation, and the black radical tradition.978-0-8223-4696-8

billie holiday

grain, you changed on the hill past
baker, grain of sand, ignored every
star, folded every grain seared

to any other voice once knew.
never any other voice once knew just
seared to darken lavender to night

of the old new ooh ooh and the old

new moon, wait a while, piercing
through, her seizure closes, after an

own aunt of mine, a triptych

before the break like clear satin,
microphone grain, fitted whisper
like a crack and pin. in satin on fifteen

rough edge surround me. you’re
breaking my heart. like clear satin
thick water streamed out your

mouth. the pitch of your transfer

went from way up high. a man
held your air in his hands till
bright condensation ripped

your voice back to the desert air
before the broken fruit stand,

it’s a little alone, it’s a little alone,

the echo anticipate, the hard
bloom underbreath, the album
eruption. urge graphics bend grain

and strife come turn the grain again
grain, fifteen grain, her long secret road
of hiding, surge and observation

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