As a poet, I’ve always been looking for new ways to steep myself in poetry, but sometimes it’s hard to fit poetry into my everyday. The Button Poetry channel on YouTube makes it easy, because they post live readings of up-and-coming poets on a regular basis. The most recent video is one by Mallary M., called “Birds & Bees,” which compares the talk a black father has to have with his children about police brutality to “the talk” that most white parents are worried about.
I love the way Mallary’s language flows into a solid stream, like he’s panicking and he wants his feelings expressed to someone else who maybe doesn’t understand what it’s like to be the parent of black children. The bees are the police and the bees can sting, and the birds are black people in the US, maybe also elsewhere, who have to think about police brutality and racially motivated violence before sending their kids outside. I love the way this poem takes something that is usually used as a punchline, the parent’s inability to speak about a child’s sexual awakening, but turns it around so that it’s completely serious, and 100% scary. It takes something that parents in general are afraid of, that is talking about sex with their kids, and reworks it so that the conversation is about life and death, vs. figurative life and death, embarrassment, and awkwardness. Black parents can’t afford to feel ashamed of the way that police target their children, can’t talk awkwardly about how you can’t wear your hood up because sometimes some white men get confused and call your head a target.
If you’re ever looking for some powerful poetry, give Button Poetry a try!