Camisha L. Jones

Three Poems

Black Lives Matter: A Questionnaire

If I post another Black body on Facebook, will hitting refresh bring it back to life?

When the next Black body floats to the top of my timeline, do I…
A. weep?
B. sigh?
C. sway like a church choir reaching for heaven?

Do Black bodies weigh anything in cyberspace?

Do Black tears ever run dry?
Will sipping them turn them sweet as Southern tea?

When another Black body gets drowned in the deluge of cute cats and darling dogs,
will any conclusions be made about which will be seen most as animal?

If a Black body is perceived as animal,
how adorable must it be to be granted rights? protection?
for groups to form to prevent its extinction?

When, because of grief or rage, we have no more emoticons to give,
will a tree please fall in the suburbs in honor of those slain?



I come from needle, yarn, thread
Daughter of those who mend

I come from bleach, mops, rags
Grandchild of those who remove the stain

We from the belly of too many mouths to feed,
dollars that stretch like bandaids
over bills that never stop bleeding

I come from overtime and enlistment,
sacrifices that stairwayed themselves
to my enrollment

I am not the offspring
of welfare’s betrayal
or incarceration’s tight grip
or a father who never found his way home 

(I am cousin though to all their harsh silences)

I’m descendant of labor without its diploma

I’m checks that do not bounce,
gas tanks that do not thirst

I am valued customer
I’m paid off and lights on
I’m good credit and high end grocery stores

I‘m not like those I come from

My speech is a white language
they never fully understand
I be code switching too swiftly
for them to dance along

I’m soil they been tillin’
prized seed blooming foreign flowers

I am all of these things
and none of them
under employed and self sufficient
good fortune and wearied deficit

I am poetry holding its beggar’s cup

I’m just like those I come from

My money be a tightrope
My debt be a flood
My degree be a symptom

I drink from a spring
of “lift while you climb”

I eat from a full table
of burnt offerings

I am nothing like those I come from

I choose the work my hands will do
and most days it greets me
with sweet bread
and a cup of warmth

They name me “spoiled”
My name means “fortunate”
My name means “foreigner”

I’m first generation
double ditching with ancestral chains
and opportunity’s velvet rope

What they have wanted for me
slices and spills us into separate parts

I’m no one’s baby mama,
no one’s abandoned child
but everyone’s credit to this rat race

I am my own safety net

I grow strong eat
from the callused hands
that made me


A Grammy for Beyonce

After Lemonade

It’s the spring
our favorite fruit
is yellow and sour
and I am one
with every Black woman
who’s ever swallowed
a mouthful of bitter
and survived

We call each other sister

Our middle fingers up
to everything and everyone
that won’t let us be great
cause every song is a mirror
and we look gorgeous in it
and the bass brings out the strength in our spines
and the lyrics keep pronouncing our full name
like it be Black gold, like we got a mansion
and a throne to sit on
and we just smile
and I’m alone in my bedroom
and I just smile
and laugh a little too
at the audacity of it
which also lights up my chest
with the warmest of salves
and I am hearing every word
and every note
and it’s the second year of hearing loss
so I am grateful
and I listen again with my husband
and again just because I can
and I can’t stop listening
because I know the silence is coming for me
and I don’t want to forget
the most beautiful shades of Black and woman
I’ve heard in a long while
and it’s the spring I finally feel free
enough to ask the burning question
Who Da Fuck Do You Think I Is
to no one in particular
and to everyone
and especially to the body that keeps betraying me
and I strut out the house like I’m leaving a flood
like my confidence wears a yellow dress and carries a baseball bat

It’s the spring we know our rage to be a righteous anthem
and a year from now we’ll need this more
and every year a Black woman’s labor is called
out its name with words that unravel us
and every song puts us back together again
gathers us all ‘round the same grand table
to give thanks for ourselves with no shame as side dish


Camisha L. Jones is the author of the chapbook, Flare (Finishing Line Press, 2017). She is Managing Director at Split This Rock, a national non-profit in DC that cultivates, teaches, and celebrates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change. Her work is informed by a background leading anti-bias programs and community service initiatives. Jones's poems can be found at Button Poetry, Rogue Agent, pluck!, The Deaf Poetry Society, and The Quarry, Split This Rock's online social justice poetry database. As part of the spoken word community in Richmond, Virginia, she competed with Slam Richmond at the 2013 National Poetry Slam. She is a recipient of a 2017 Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship from The Loft Literary Center.