The Edge of Black


I need to believe her when she says black

is a goddess with black eyes,

and tightly curled black hair

catching stars as she glides atop a black stallion

across a moon-night blue sky –

she assures me that black is light.


in america,

black is contrast and contrarian:

we say black poet,                  black doctor

because we need sculptors                             to carve lines

against the edge of black to contain it


today’s lesson:  tell me, how does a poet

become a black poet? a man become a black man?

Ask Tiger –

after his mug-shot.


somewhere, always here, in america

my poetry is rendered black

does that mean it is dark?  Unrefined?

art without enslaved black bodies, the editor says, is colorless,

devoid of contrast, meaning

does trauma have a color?

come on, you know the “black experience.”  you’re                 black.

does that mean I’m threatening or that I’m starless?

O, stop being dark – where’s your edge, your fire

unarmed black woman?

Don’t you know how to be black

and disappear into a moon-night blue sky?


.chisaraokwu. is a Nigerian American poet, physician, and humanitarian. Her writings have appeared or are forthcoming in Urban Cusp Magazine, Page & Spine, the poetry anthology 'Desolate Country' (39 West Press) and other print and online media. An Italophile, she splits her time between southern Italy and southern California.