Things I Don’t Say to the White Audience at the Poetry Reading

— Simone John

I am not your wet nurse, your mammy
your nanny. I am not here to sing
you to sleep. You want a poem
that saunters toward you like your
childhood dog. Places its head
in your lap, waiting to be pet.

I never had a dog. And if I did
my poems would still bloat
with black girl grief
still read like an index of sorrow
still bathe you in the shadow
of a nightmare you never knew to fear.

There is no redeeming nature metaphor here.
No plot twist to leave you feeling lighter.

Just more names
you have already forgotten.
Just more bodies.


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