Skip to Content

the best time

By Mahogany L. Browne

the best time i had as a teenager
included a bottle of cisco and a sideshow
at the uptown gas station.
after Kenny’s body was bludgeoned by his girlfriend & her two brothers



the best time

there was no one to tell us we couldn’t
talk loud and follow the sound of our e c h o e s
ragged with haunt and laughter.
before Andre lived to tell about his hit & run accident at the homecoming party



when brown limbs held forty ounces and each other’s ego(S)
      a delicate enchantment.
after Andre was left for dead in a stalled car a year later



the air c r a c k l e d
& the tires squealed a lullaby in the emptying parking lot
we abandoned our smiles for scowls
before Shawn’s body flew through the car windshield



all we knew was move & drink & swivel & the promise          of death
for our kind of brown                    only worthy of
           a casket                                                  caked by the dust
of black bones

Added: Friday, May 13, 2016  /  Used with permission.
Mahogany L. Browne
Photo by Jennie Bergqvist.

Mahogany L. Browne is a writer, organizer & educator. Executive Director of Bowery Poetry Club & Artistic Director of Urban Word NYC & Poetry Coordinator at St. Francis College. Browne has received fellowships from Agnes Gund, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House, Mellon Research & Rauschenberg. She is the author of Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby & Black Girl Magic (Macmillan), Kissing Caskets (Yes Yes Books) & Dear Twitter (Penmanship Books). She is also the founder of the Woke Baby Book Fair (a nationwide diversity literature campaign) & as an Arts for Justice grantee, is completing her first book of essays on mass incarceration, investigating its impact on women and children. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Browne was invited as a Featured Poet for Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness (March 26-28, 2020) in Washington, DC which was cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Split This Rock began a virtual poetry reading series in May 2020 which included a reading by Mahogany L. Browne, Kimberly Blaeser, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, and Marilyn Chin on May 29, 2020.

Other poems by this author