from A Street Called Beacon
after Gwendolyn Brooks

Songs will not let you forget

You remember the kiss hip moan you got but did not get,

the wet strands between your tips

your thrusting fingers their tender lips

the bathroom stall, the knee open above the throne

when night claws you, scratches hot quiet into your stars

you’ll smell the painted heat, ripping navy blue across your eyes

and them singing fuck me, fuck me, fuck me

in the cradle of your arms

“You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh,” return

to the buffet of mornings, of nights, of afternoons, of doorways, of trees, of pools, of twin beds, of snow, of lace, of brown-buttered lips in the heated canvas light.

I have heard the hymn of footsteps in the voice

of fronds, of dead lovers-most still living in the wind

I have split. I have seeded

my pulse with tears.

I have said, Beloveds, if this is sin, us

being ceased, this you sucking

soft the cut of me

If I have stolen your prayers, your rings, your summer eyes,

your holidays, your thighs, your photos, your heart running over glass,

your knees, your surrender, your unclothed kiss

Believe that even in my leaving I have never


But why should I drink, be

Drunk with departure?—

Since I broke the fluted glass of we

or rather, or instead

rescued myself from the chards of you.

But that too is only half the wind

what is can’t be said.

You were rising, coffee and pink sunlight

you held afternoon on the crest of your hip

you are campfire’s smoldering coals

It is just that you never turned your head like her

never unearthed the sand and grain of me with thick fingers never painted the years to come

never cried.

Believe me, I wanted you all

Believe me, I loved you, like wind in sky

………………………………….and water

and I loved, like a seed in blood

I loved you


JOURDAN IMANI KEITH is a poet, essayist, playwright, naturalist and activist. Her TEDx Talk, “Your Body of Water,”the theme for King County’s 2016-2018 Poetry on Buses program won an Americans for the Arts award. Keith’s Orion Magazine essays, “Desegregating Wilderness” and ” At Risk” were selected for the 2015 Best American Science and Nature Writing Anthology (Houghton Mifflin). She has been awarded fellowships from Hedgebrook, Wildbranch, Santa Fe Science Writing workshop, VONA, and Jack Straw. Her memoir in essays, Tugging at the Web is forthcoming from University of Washington Press.