Do any black children grow up casual?

By Harmony Holiday b. 1982 Harmony Holiday
And that other time after we got carjacked in L.A. on the way home from Spago. Like a scene outta that movie I don’t like about those hoes I don’t love. It is hard out there for a pimp. A white woman and her brown babies /brown babies in a fancy car with unlocked doors. Most everything is semi-automatic. Two black men hopped into the front row seats and started waving guns like pom-poms. 
We made it! We made it! Right against the rim of her porcelain brain. All they wanted was the car and the color. The car was white like her. She saved our lives. Then the penguins came over with a book full of photos of black men, so serious like kings in their mugging, and they asked us to pick which two it was. I was five but I could feel the shrugged evil of it so true and impossible to touch as I pretended to recognize us. We closed our eyes and pointed at you, and said, I don’t know that man. Je ne connais pas cet homme. We saved our lives. We tugged at the flashlight looking for bruises and found you awake, and found a way.

Source: Poetry (November 2013).


This poem originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

November 2013
 Harmony  Holiday


Born in Waterloo, Iowa, poet and choreographer Harmony Holiday is the daughter of Northern Soul singer/songwriter Jimmy Holiday. Her father died when she was five, and she and her mother moved to Los Angeles. Holiday was educated at the University of California, Berkeley and at Columbia University. Her debut collection of poems, Negro League Baseball (2011), won the Fence Books Motherwell Prize. Go Find your Father/A Famous . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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