a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
fall off her head, a black woman’s
hair will land at the feet of that TSA woman
who pats our heads
as if she had everything against us.
All that patting down of boobs,
the pushing against aching knees
as if anyone has ever brought down a plane
by inserting bombs under their old knees.
One of these days, all those blond clipped
hair pieces under my white girlfriend’s hair
will also come flying off
at the TSA check, those air blowing
X-ray machines, flying at the head and hair
as if hair had anything to do with bringing a plane
down. One of these days, a wig will take off
like a jet, flying away like a jet.
They come at us like we have done something
wrong for just being people. They come at us
as if the new padded breasts and buttocks
and fake boobs and fake parts of us
were in themselves capable
of hiding bombs and missiles, capable
of bringing a plane down.
They come at us as if they want us
to deposit our breasts at the check-in desk.
How many women have used their wigs to bring
a plane down? How many of us have
even used our jelly breasts to bring down a plane?
Yes, a woman has used her breasts
and her eyes, her big fat butt and her swinging
body parts to bring down a man
from his false height, so many men, going
down like falling jets in a bombing raid,
so many of them falling into deep ditches
losing everything, like Bill Cosby
and all of them men, losing it all, their old
loose selves, losing it all to the power
of a single woman’s smile, but a plane and a wig,
they don’t mix, and Lord knows
how unstable a wig is to carry a woman’s head
under its body, so, how could a wig
carry a bomb? Who told these TSA
people that a wig had such power?
Who trained them to pat down my head anyway?
Patricia Jabbeh Wesley is the author of five collections of poetry, including When the Wanderers Come Home, Where the Road Turns, The River is Rising, and Becoming Ebony. Her sixth collection of poems, “Praise Song for My Children: New and Selected Poems,” is forthcoming from Autumn House Press in 2020. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Harvard Review, Harvard Divinity Review, Transition Magazine, Prairie Schooner, Crab Orchard Review, among others, and her work has been translated in Italian, Spanish, and Finnish. She teaches Creative Writing and African Literature at Penn State Altoona.
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