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IthacaLit   Literary Magazine: Lit with Art © 2011

All individual works copyrighted by their authors. All rights reserved.

First Credit IthacaLit. ISSN: 2372-4404

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.


                        Dear Prince,

                        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.