poetry quarterly

10th anniversary


Bro. Yao



the decapitated head of a negro who smoked boat
back in 88 when hustling drugs first became cool
and blood flowed in the gutters of DC and friends
stopped mourning the death of friends because
they were enemies

the lost dreadlocks of men who caught religion
then lost it and were left with only the spliff
and the rain outside a club in Adams Morgan
smelling beer, eating giant pizza slices and
watching the white shadow creep across the
face of the city at 3 am.

the women doused with sweat feeling the cold
air on their foreheads, tight jeans and bellies out
or shoulders bare up under the streetlights
walking into the night full of drunk and hungry men
with only a smile as a shield

the powerless chanting of drunkness scraping
its fingers across the concrete and underneath
the neon lights, driving drunk with
their heads stuck out the window to make it home
in time for breakfast


ronald reagan with his cutlass cutting back
smiling and talking shit about light phasers
coming from the sky to incinerate every dollar bill
we paid in taxes

our fathers and our mothers and the things hidden
in their round bellies, the things hidden in their souls
they had no time to talk about, when they wandered
through jazz or some other country, singing the songs
coming from the radio in their head back when
they wandered the night

a soundtrack to go with the cubicles of our lives
a burning bush that would speak sense for our children
a gun that would protect us from the things that
liquor cannot hide, the dance the devil can’t do
but throws on mortals like my man Rick who
shakes so hard you would swear someone was
killing him from the inside of his body—but
he always say it’s just me

a stop sign for gentrification and the will of the people
who are not people but interest and politics and the
black steel of a gun sitting in a holster full of threats
attached to the waist of the cop who hates working
nights hoping that no one acts a fool this Friday night
though that is only one of the impossible thoughts
swimming in his head

hip-hop that is dirty like soul food spots, with
grease and jello and lollipops and the sound
your mouth makes when you chew gum or bite
your nails and the world stops making sense
while you zone out or grind and wind
in the greatest piece of real estate black america has

a bull horn to say we are somebody, a giant black
smell to call the ghost of a movement up from the
exhaust in the sewers what is hot and smells
like shit up underneath the city, where the same
old history lies like a commercial we saw as a child
stuck in our brain on repeat


Bro. Yao (Hoke S.Glover III) received his MFA in Poetry from the University of Maryland at College Park in 1997. His work has been published in African American Review, Soulfires, Testimony, and Mosaic. Over the last twenty years he has focused most of his work on promoting reading and history in the Prince George’s Country area. Currently, he serves as an Associate Professor at Bowie State University in the English Department where he teaches composition and poetry; and resides in Lanham, MD with his wife and three children.


Published in Volume 11, Number 4, Fall 2010.


To read more by this author:
Brother Yao