Patricia Smith



“We do not dig graves or put caskets into graves any longer. The decision was made and funeral homes were notified that families and funeral homes would have to supply grave-digging personnel.”
— Ed Mazoue, New Orleans City Real Estate Administrator and Person in Charge of the City’ s Cemeteries

There’ s nothing but mud. The ground looks dry and firm,
but underneath is a stew of storm. Stout shovels, rusted,
grow gummed and heavy with what I heft and rearrange.

Progress is slow.

Hip-Hop Ghazal

Gotta love us brown girls, munching on fat, swinging blue hips,
decked out in shells and splashes, Lawdie, bringing them woo hips.

As the jukebox teases, watch my sistas throat the heartbreak,
inhaling bassline, cracking backbone and singing thru hips.

Like something boneless, we glide silent, seeping 'tween floorboards,
wrapping around the hims, and ooh wee, clinging like glue hips.

Engines grinding, rotating, smokin', gotta pull back some.
Natural minds are lost at the mere sight of ringing true hips.

The President Flies Over

Aloft between heaven and them,

I babble the landscape — what staunch, vicious trees,
what cluttered roads, slow cars. This is my

country as it was gifted me — victimless, vast.
The soundtrack buzzing the air around my ears
continually loops ditties of eagles and oil.
I can’ t choose. Every moment I’ m awake,
aroused instrumentals channel theme songs,
what I cannot.