pearl of harlem//makalani bandele



to not only swing,
but on your mama
and to swell her eye all up out to here.





then, she like this in the air with that eye one time
and your wheels roll right out from under you.

this be about a bee bumping around a crocus’s pistil
she loved.
this be about she
and her magnolia entourage
longsuffering all this tenderheadedness.






them country ham sandwiches
wrapped in wax paper for the long road ahead. mama’s






boy’s mama like a worried vignette. she got a mean moan in the vestibule with wide

applications. and oh, how she loved to do the st. vitus’s day dance with you when it’s






moreover, the move over
and let granny put her own hip back in place.
she didn’t know sometimes how they was going to make it

on that broken hip.

her did what she had to do. her cook a mean cultural


process in the morning
after getting you out of jail.



what do you do when the needle can’t seem to find
the groove?


she trains them up in the way they should go,
and man do they go
to more gigs, the head, hell, the bottle, movies, the waldorf,
even with the police harassing them.





after the piano’s had

its spell, who gonna go

to jim brown’s with geejee and get aunt rosetta some function(al)
tonality and a pack of kools?

makalani bandele has received fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council, Cave Canem, Vermont Studio Center, and Millay Colony for the Arts. His work has been published in several anthologies, and in many in-print and online literary journals. He is the author of one book of poems, hellfightin’. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.