driving while black

by Mwatabu S. Okantah

It is not what you call me,
it is what I answer to…
—African Proverb

driving in my car
black wisdom from the ages is turned on its head:

in my car
what i think of my Self is of no significance
(save in my own mind…)
because i am always black while driving
and i know they are there waiting lurking
looking
out for some one black
like me.

i am a black man driving.
i have my own and countless other blackmenintheircars
stories to tell—
it is the same story; just new chapters from works in
progress
out of America’s deep black story well.

i am blessed.
i have driven through my youth
and into my elder years—
i am still driving. they are
still there watching.
sadly,
their fears are always near…

Previously published by Traveling Stanzas and in Muntu Kuntu Energy: New and Selected Poetry (Chatter House Press, 2013).

A Dream

by Abby Rambler

a dream
is a
beautiful symphony
sing
ing
from prodigious hilltops
from
heightening Alleghenies
from
curvaceous slopes
Let
it ring

Based on the speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Previously published by Traveling Stanzas with artwork by Alex Catanese.

*Writing Prompt: Contribute to the Traveling Stanzas’ Black Voices Mattter Community Poem.

This issue of The Hard Work of Hope is produced in partnership with Wick Poetry Center at Kent State.


Mwatabu S. Okantah

Mwatabu S. Okantah is the author of Afreeka Brass (1983), Collage (1984), Legacy: for Martin & Malcolm (1987), Cheikh Anta Diop: Poem for the Living (1997/2017), Reconnecting Memories: Dreams No Longer Deferred (2004), Muntu Kuntu Energy: New and Selected Poetry (2013) and Guerrilla Dread: Poetry for Hearts and Minds (2019). A former Assistant to the Director of Black Studies at Cleveland State University, he is an Associate Professor of Pan-African Studies and Director of the Ghana Study Abroad Program at Kent State University. A 2019 BMe Community Genius Fellow, he is also the recipient of the 2021 Great Lakes Black Authors Expo, Alice Dunbar Nelson Literary Achievement Award. For additional background material, log onto www.mkepoet1.com.


Abby Rambler

Abby Rambler is a 15-year-old student poet from Akron, Ohio.