Today’s Thoughtful Thursday offerings are a series of four poems about young men by Black poets of several generations. Enjoy!


Young Soul

first feel, then feel, then
read. or read, then feel, then
fall, or stand, where you
already are, think
of your self, and the other
of your parents, your mothers
and sisters, then feel, or
fall, on your knees
if nothing else will move you,
then read
and look deeply
into all matters
come close to you
city boys–
country men

make some muscle
in your head, but
use the muscle in your heart.

Imamu Amiri Baraka b.1934

We Real Cool

The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

Gwendolyn Brooks 1917-2000


I stood in the tunnel warehouse
holding hands with my brother and Dad,
with our Red Flyer wagon that the Goodfellows left.
We came for patties, salt pork, beans and flour.
The lines were long, but we had to stay. Strangers
waited with us, against the flush of winter.

Lunch at the Book Cadillac, second basement.
Our uncle worked in the Kay Danzer Flower Shop.
He took roses to the stadium ticket window.
We got to see the Tigers play the Yankees.
Greenberg hit one out onto Cherry Street.

I had a report due in Social Science.
Finished it while Mom did the dishes.
I washed my safety-patrol belt every Monday.
Mr. Loving expected them to be spotless.
I brushed, scrubbed, and soaked it.
Mom suggested table salt. It glowed.

Mom told Dad I wanted to go to college.
We didn’t have money for school.
Dad pulled out the blue pin-striped suit
that he saved for special good times,
looked it over, fondled the jacket, took the suit
to Lewis’s, the pawnshop on Gratiot.

Murray Jackson 1926-2002

Lime Light Blues

I have been known
to wear white shoes
beyond Labor Day.
I can see through
doors & walls
made of glass.
I’m in an anger
encouragement class.
When I walk
over the water
of parking lots
car doors lock–
When I wander
or enter the elevator
women snap
their pocketbooks
shut, clutch
their handbags close.
cops follow me in stores
asking me to holler
if I need any help.
I can get a rise–
am able to cause
patrolmen to stop
& second look–
Any drugs in the trunk?
Civilian teens
beg me for green,
where to score
around here.
When I dance,
which is often,
the moon above me
wheels its disco lights–
until there’s a fight.
Crowds gather
& wonder how
the spotlight sounds–
like a body
being born, like the blare
of car horns
as I cross
the street unlocking,
slow. I know all
a movie needs
is me
shouting at the screen
from the balcony. From such
heights I watch
the darkness gather.
What pressure
my blood is under.

Kevin Young b.1970