Dark Lady Poetry - Timothy Black




Timothy Black 






Death      Raises      Ghosts 





It is very hard, 

sometimes, to walk 

past graveyards 

with their weeping 

willows and their tall 

stone markers. 

I remember the young 

girl next door 

who is now buried 

there, six feet 

above twelve feet under. 

Her personal 

stone, when viewed 

under reflected sun- 

light shows her 

in rainbows, smiling 

the smile of the forever 

alive. I imagine her 

parents winding down 

their days. Mornings 

at the kitchen table, 

evenings around the fire 

contemplating her, 

and the world’s, 

amazing depth. 

Sometimes when I walk 

past the frozen rows 

I can ignore just 

how deep it is, 

and my own still 

beating heart. 




The dying man 

said he smelled 

baking bread 

when asked what 

dying was like. He 

had a hole blown 

through his heart, 

was gasping through 

hot lungs, was 

staring through 

fresh cataracts. 

The hitch when 

he spoke was what 

really got to me. 

When I was young 

I remember my mom 

baking bread. 

It was an all-day 

task back then. She 

would tell me to walk 

softly through 

the kitchen – said 

any little movement 

could cause the rising 

loaves to fall. 

When my wife asks 

what my youth 

was like, I tell her 

it was like 

the smell 

of baking bread. 




My parents 


a pre- 

paid funeral. 


say it’s 

for the 


so we 

(or they, 

if I am dead) 


have to 


with that 

as well 

as our 




put the 


to rest, 

and spend 

each day 

like ghosts, 


chains, and 


to get their 

money’s worth. 









Mulatto Mongrel Cliché


White child, what’s in your wallet?

Black child, what’s in your heart?

And which line’s longer,

you son-of-a-bitch?

I paid the price

of hailstones and shotgun

shells, bad crank

and great crystal meth

to ask those three questions

to the fucked and the damned.


The hail formed when the wind

whipped rain up and up

through the chill firmament. I press

the black cat down

beside me where he purrs in a great

black mass. Those opaque

balls fall hard on the cars

of the just and unjust alike. The bright

red shells


were sprinkled through the carpet

of tall grass and adorned

with swastikas and racial slurs –

die niggurkind, die

falsetto whiteboy. Die

unholy baritone trinity. The bad


crank glew yellow

and dove down to the devil’s

palace of sulfur and ice-blue

regret. There is no girl

with dirty-blonde dreads

in this one to lighten the load,

no brunette to shoot

a load into anymore. There never

were. Here never is.


And good crystal meth looks like

Japanese hard rock

candy, like the shards

of copper sulfate at Hackberry Lake.

It’s as blue as your baby’s eyes,

but not blue at all. What’s typed

on your head whiteboy? What’s


stapled to your heart, niggerchile’?

What was in your mind,

you filthy cliché?

I could guess, but it’s too lonely

and too blue and too cold

in this fucking rubber room

to think, let alone

worship your left-alone slapstick





Snake as Nigger


Tonight, this very night.

A near-black water

moccasin, with chain-link

marks on his wet back

emerges from the weight of spring

water. He holds a nickel

that shines like a fallen

chunk of moon between his fangs

and the crus

clitoris of his tongue.


In the light of this faltered

day the moon sees this coin

and wants it back. The snake

winds like kite string

through the wet, high

afghan of grass. The moon

can only glower down on the snake,

can only whisper lightly

for its fallen desire.


What is the coin? Out here

there are no books to read,

no discarded condom shells.

The only screams

are from feather-picked night

hawks, stressed at the water’s

furious parting from carp jumping.

We invent these hawks,

just like we invent the coin

and the moon’s undoing

when we summon the words

to fail at its description.


We fancy ourselves masters

of those that would punish us

with poisons. We tinker

with phosphorus compounds

we place in glass pipes. We don’t know


enough to leave well enough alone.

We tread on reservation land,

and hand out tickets to come

see the snake. Come, make a wish:

throw a coin into the lake, and see


what will come of it,

wet, black and angry.












Timothy Black’s first poetic novella, Connecticut Shade, is in its second printing through WSC Press. He teaches poetry at Wayne State College, and is a Cave Canem Fellow. He lives in Wakefield, Nebraska with his wife and two sons. 


Timothy’s work has appeared in the anthologies The Logan House Anthology of 21st Century American Poetry, The Great American Roadshow, and Words Like Rain. He has been published in The Platte Valley Review and at   , has poems forthcoming in Breadcrumb Scabs and has won an Academy of American Poets prize for his poem Heavy Freight