[Greenwood Ghosts Dress Their Sunday Best]

Yielbonzie Johnson, Passages (2020), 16 x 20 in., watercolor/acrylic mix on paper / Courtesy of the Artist

after Gwendolyn Brooks’s “We Real Cool”


   this no parade for your pleasure

           no one winds up brass band
           stand celebration

this no market we knife
melons sample
     haggle down our price

           aspirin, or the lady-hand
           leather of Louise half heels,
           some our bit-o-honey, salted seed

              from Ferguson Drug Store
              & Grier Shoemaker

      no one here hunch their back,
      low eyes, pantomime themselves
      minstrel or maid

we don’t give—
    we grand

    stand our own

           headlining Tulsa

     Attorneys Spears, Saddler, & Chappelle.

               we call Lazarus up from the dead,
his bluebonnet gurney in
     Frissell Hospital’s

     just seen to be seen we filled
     out, we bright enough, we gold-

end weed, we oil reserve, we keep


                 no time, we Bunn’s Shoeshine
        gospel. we holy

broken from the mouth
& matchsticks
of Bethel Adventist Church pews

             past Abner & Hunter
             Barbershop, Carter Billiards,

                     Hardy Furnished Rooms
                                 Dixie Theater—

                  you mistake our procession for ghosts
                       envious, the figurative
you claim we isn’t

                       so why you stop and stare
is our beauty so vain it a form

             of resistance?

Jasmine Elizabeth Smith (she/her) is a Black poet from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Cave Canem Fellow. She received an MFA in poetry from the University of California, Riverside. Her poetic work, invested in the diaspora of Black Americans in various historical contexts, has been featured in Black Renaissance Noir and Poetry, among others. She is the winner of the Georgia Poetry Prize, and her collection South Flight is forthcoming with the University of Georgia Press.