Cynthia MANICK, Spring 2019
Ode to JET Magazine
(When You Be a Rainbow with a Streak of Black)
Momma lived between two large
stones; Daddy with his dip-lean
walk and three mouths hungry. But on
special nights she’d draw a bath
of Epsom salt, Avon (blue), turn to JET
magazine to see a door in every word.
I miss your Afro cause
real funk needs room
to breathe, space to map
joints, sprout octaves
like a volcano.
Daddy called it mailbox ambush; Redd
Foxx the Negro Bible. JET arrived
and Mama was more bite than talk.
Quick eats meant franks with Campbells
pork n’beans or spaghetti with just sauce.
We knew to quiet our hides with TV
reruns and peeled tangerines.
Dear Beauty of the Week,
when Mama’s not
lookin, Daddy calls you
speckled sin with a side of gravy.
This is how we learn—
curve, spin, and dip our weave
blue eye shadow the classy way
worry about Jesse Jackson’s Mom
did you hear about Marvin Gaye’s Dad
roll that back-of-the-bus fury into want...
of pink Cadillac’s, toned ridges
of Angela Bassett’s arms.
Dear Don Cornelius,
Where do you buy your
glasses? Do they have
x-ray vision? Can you see
steps of the Congo
in the Soul Train line?
I bring Momma the news with a cup
of tea, explain that JET is done with
5 x 7 shapes, the perfect fit for bags, make-
shift church fans, and fly-swatters.
She looks years behind–
to Emmet Till’s face pressed in pages
look what they did to that baby. . .
to Rosa's purse clutched in hand,
tucks a printed page by her breast for keeping.
Dear JET Wedding
I like the couples
you choose. Do they eat
from the same Luther
Vandross love tree? All
their teeth sparkle
in the dark.
Cynthia Manick is the author of Blue Hallelujahs (Black Lawrence Press, 2016). A Pushcart Prize-nominated poet with an MFA in Creative Writing from the New School; she has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, the MacDowell Colony, Poets House, and the Saltonstall Foundation of the Arts among others. Winner of the 2016 Lascaux Prize in Collected Poetry and the 2018 Elizabeth Sloan Tyler Memorial Award; Manick is Founder and Curator of the reading series Soul Sister Revue. Her poem "Things I Carry Into the World" was made into a film by Motionpoems, an organization dedicated to video poetry, and has debuted on Tidal for National Poetry Month and Reel 13 Shorts. Manick’s work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day Series, Bone Bouquet, Callaloo, Kweli Journal, Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB), Muzzle Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.