Two Poems by Bonita Lee Penn

by Sampsonia Way    /  June 8, 2012  / No comments

Bonita Lee Penn

Bonita Lee Penn. Photo: Camila Centeno

Bonita Lee Penn is a poet and author based in Pittsburgh’s North Side. She is currently the managing editor for Soul Pitt Quarterly Magazine and the author of two books of poetry: The B Side (2011) and The Visiting Room (2007).

Sampsonia Way is delighted to share two poems by Penn: “Utterances of an Essential Narrative” and “America the Beautiful.” These unpublished poems are presented as a preview for our exclusive interview with her, which will be published Friday, June 15.



Utterances of an Essential Narrative

do we have a saga worth reading?
will others place ear to page.
lap up carved declarations
etched affirmations
drawn through blood passages descending
a babel of history.

shackled ankles; chained wrists
assembled & fused,

wombtowombtochesttochesttoarmtoarmtobacktoback,

breathtobreath,

hearttobeat.

insurmountable fears; unbearable roars.
intertwined thrashes that bind
sinews of suffrage-to-backbones in spiritual praises
taut, unyielding, decaying corpses – honey to lynch swarms,
and yet – our story is questioned.


America the Beautiful

lena horne dressed it
dorothy dandridge act through it
harlem revived it
james baldwin revolutionized it
josephine baker crossed the ocean, and danced it
zora neale hurston wrote it, till she broke
langston hughes revealed it:

creative souls living out loud,
in america.

harriet tubman mapped it
elaine brown, angela davis attempted to transform it
fred hampton, george and jonathan jackson, died for it
as martin, malcolm and medgar,
assassinated for it:

the right to be free and black in america.

president barack obama deals with it
urban communities wallows in it
jails and prisons overflows with it
cemeteries bury it:

the negative effects of being black in america.

of thee i sing, america the beautiful.

About the Author

Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that seeks to protect and advocate for writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of life.

View all articles by Sampsonia Way

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