tender ~ a black boy song (for Jordan & Nicholas) | JP Howard

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tender ~ a black boy song (for Jordan & Nicholas) 


my two suns are light and joy and black brilliance
sometimes my youngest son is all teen talkback
my oldest, all queer young adult swag
together they be black boy magic

my sons be black boy magic 
they quote baldwin & lorde & lawd how they still shine in amerika
even when they argue, they have each others backs
in our house boys can cry or dye their hair color of the rainbow
our home is a rainbow, our boys are a house filled with love
our teen asked his big brother how to shave his newly grown pandemic beard
last night his big brother surprised him with his first beard trimmer set
lovingly showed his younger brother how to shave for the first time

first to wet his face, then spread shaving cream 
and gently guide the blade without cutting himself
they root for each other, like nobody’s business
they been marching together for pride and black lives since they could walk

our oldest son has no patience for his two mamas and our questions,
but this past semester, during a pandemic, 
let his little brother talk to him for hours on end by video chat, 
about nothing and everything, at least once a week
while sheltering-in 3,000 miles away on his California campus

some days my mama heart bursts or breaks for black boys
what i am trying to say is every black boy is my son
all suns are black boys shining

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JP Howard is an educator, literary activist, curator and community builder. Her debut poetry collection, SAY/MIRROR (The Operating System), was a Lambda Literary finalist. She is also the author of bury your love poems here (Belladonna*) and co-editor of Sinister Wisdom Journal Black Lesbians–We Are the Revolution!  JP is a 2020 featured author in Lambda Literary’s LGBTQ Writers in Schools program and was a Split this Rock Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism finalist. JP is featured in the Lesbian Poet Trading Card Series from Headmistress Press and has received fellowships and grants from Cave Canem, VONA, Lambda, Astraea and Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC). She curates Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon, a NY-based forum offering all writers a monthly venue to collaborate. Her poetry and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in The Slowdown  podcast, Academy of American Poets, Anomaly, Apogee Journal, The Feminist Wire, Split this Rock, Muzzle Magazine, and The Best American Poetry Blog. Her poetry is widely anthologized. JP holds a BA from Barnard College, an MFA in Creative Writing from The City College of New York and is Editor-At-Large of Mom Egg Review VOX online.  http://www.jp-howard.com

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