by Quraysh Ali Lansana

nah brah

-after RaMell Ross




start here. what it is to push against

thirsty grass to scorched brittle dirt

path as you hang from the branch


of my ebony arms. you cop innocence

lanky mobster, resist gravity & reason

in cold hard eyes. upended b-boy stance


as life lesson. we are gnarled tree, born

from earth fed grandpa’s blood. gang

as noose. gang as mason-dixon. why


south so dirty.




daddy ain’t know imma king. look

at his shoes, so old they come back

in the comeback. not too far from


fourth ward, he still smell trap, see

peachtree. my sag dope, my head

baiting satan. grandpa can’t save me.

Nah-brah, 2019

RaMell Ross

Quraysh Ali Lansana is author of twenty books in poetry, nonfiction and children’s literature. Lansana is currently a Tulsa Artist Fellow and is a Lecturer in Africana Studies and English at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa and with the English Department at the University of Tulsa. Lansana is Executive Producer of KOSU/NPR’s Focus: Black Oklahoma monthly radio program, which is a recipient of a 2022 duPont-Columbia Award and a 2022 NAACP Image Award, among others. Lansana is also the recipient of a 2022 Emmy Award, among others, for his roles as host/consultant for the OETA (PBS) documentary film “Tulsa Race Massacre: 100 Years Later.” His most recent books include Opal’s Greenwood Oasis, the skin of dreams: new and collected poems, 1995-2018, The Whiskey of Our Discontent: Gwendolyn Brooks as Conscience & Change Agent) and The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop. Lansana’s work appears in Best American Poetry 2019. He is a founding member of Tri-City Collective.

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