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Ode to the Black Men Playing Lil’ Jon Outside the Waterfront Safeway

By Alexa Patrick

Heads heavy with 1’s and 2’s,
they perch outside the grocery,
sucking teeth at new neighbors
rushing home with La Croix boxes,
neighbors who don’t make eye contact,
fearing what they might find
in the bass line of their brilliant irises.

One makes a hi hat of spit on pavement,
and for a moment, I think a Sword Lily
could grow there, where his mouth spills.
Its vibrant skin reclaiming concrete.

When I walk by they call me Miss Lady,
as a father might call me by my name.
My chest blooms in unison with their speakers,
the familiarity of its incessant clap.

You’d think it a survival,
even as I walk into the store,
music fading to silence,
each brown face beckons a nod
as if to say
We still hear it,
We still hear it,
We still hear




Listen as Alexa Patrick reads
"Ode to the Black Men Playing Lil’ Jon Outside the Waterfront Safeway."

Added: Friday, August 2, 2019  /  Used with permission.
Alexa Patrick
Photo by Owen Hart.

Alexa Patrick is a singer and poet from Connecticut. She is a graduate of American University, where she studied Psychology, African-American and African Diaspora Studies, and Spanish. Alexa is a Cave Canem Fellow and the 2019 Head Coach of Split This Rock's D.C. Youth Slam Team. She has held teaching positions through Split This Rock, The University of the District of Columbia, and the Center for Creative Youth at Wesleyan University. She has also coached the slam teams of American University and George Washington University for the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational. You may find Alexa's work published in CRWN Magazine and The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic.

Other poems by this author