Two Poems

June Jordan

What Would I Do White?

What would I do white?What would I do clearly fullof not exactly beans norpearls my nose a manicuremy eyes a picture of your wall?I would disturb the streets bypassing by so pretty kidson stolen petty cash would lookat me like foreignwriting in the skyI would forget my furs on any chair.I would ignore the doormen at the knobthe social sanskrit of my lifeunwilling to disclose my cosmetology,I would forget.Over my wine I would acquireI would inspire big returns to equitythe equity of capital I amaccustomed to acceptlike wintertime.I would do nothing.That would be enough. 

Poem Number Two on Bell's Theorem, or The New Physicality of Long Distance Love

There is no chance that we will fall apartThere is no chanceThere are no parts.

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Photo of June Jordan
© Sara Miles, 1980

June Jordan was born in Harlem in 1936 and was the author of ten books of poetry, seven collections of essays, two plays, a libretto, a novel, a memoir, five children’s books, and June Jordan’s Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint. As a professor at UC Berkeley, Jordan established Poetry for the People, a program to train student teachers to teach the power of poetry from a multicultural worldview. She was a regular columnist for The Progressive and her articles appeared in The Village Voice, The New York Times, Ms., Essence, and The Nation. After her death from breast cancer in 2002, a school in the San Francisco School District was renamed in her honor.

Front cover of The Essential June Jordan

Port Townsend, Washington

"Featuring an afterword by Pulitzer Prize-winner Jericho Brown, this volume of verse displays the undeniable legacy June Jordan left on both our literature and culture. Collected here are blazing examples of poetry as activism, stanzas that speak truth to power and speak out against violence against women and police brutality. But Jordan also speaks on the significance of hope, mixing, as Brown puts it, ‘the doom and devastation made mundane through media with the hard decision to love anyway.'"
O, The Oprah Magazine

"Wide in scope and singular in their articulation of atrocities, Jordan’s poems shine in this thoughtfully curated volume… As she contemplates land, borders, race, and gender, the reader, too, is invited to look closely at the world around them. In these rich, generous poems, to hold and accept divisive truths is an act of love and solidarity."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

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