Dyin ain’t pretty. Sure ain’t streets dyin. Pretty ain’t it. In multi-
plex castles, Black women die, wrinkled, prayin for enemies,
rockin dead weight. Praisin hard life. Lives lonely, lives. Many
teared eyes, full drops. Rough hands ain’t neva been pretty.
Ironin. Washin. Cookin. Spread table, legs, okra, hominy, mush.
Vines, faces twisted. Eyes red up. Woulda. Coulda. If lovin a
Black man is a full stomach: malnutrition stalks Black women.
If basics, held jobs. Mothers, so many, on knees. Arched hearts.
Spines bent, heavy vessels. Laid down. Love no more. Love
unknown songs of mothers. Restricted to marches. For
mothered sons. Not plenty lovin. Black women lovin canned
tight. Untouched on sale shelves. Hardened, faded. Run away
lovin. Caught in snared lives. Chalk bags stuffed. Muffled
screams. Knuckled heads, fists, faced palms out. A wasted
submission. Lovin dyin ain’t pretty. Black women’s hearts—
First published in Hot Metal Bridge
Bonita Lee Penn, a Pittsburgh poet, is active in the Pittsburgh literary scene; volunteers as the facilitator of UMBRA/Pittsburgh, a monthly poetry workshop; she is the Managing Editor of the Soul Pitt Quarterly magazine; also, as a member of the United Black Book Clubs of Pittsburgh, she plans and host literary events. She received her MFA from Lesley University. Her works have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, Women Studies Quarterly, RUNE Literary Journal, Voices from the Attic, a Madwomen in the Attic Anthology and Hot Metal Bridge. She is currently in search of a publisher for her most recent collection of poetry.