Poems by Bennie Herron

part i...us as we are

i always thought
babies came from dancing

i owned every color of
corduroyed pants
they called me fire starter

i ran the fastest on our street
i had the biggest afro

i knew all the latest dances
from the whop to the cabbage

i had game at football
my new pumas were hand me
downs but they were still fresh

i saw beat street 6 times
electric boogaloo twice and
i knew every word of my radio
by l.l cool j

i refereed every fight
i instigated

i went to school with bloods
that stapled cuffs into their

i thought everybody had a
coffee can full of cooking oil
on their stove top

i thought america
was al green slapping us
with his wails under a
velvet love painting

i thought all little girls
wore two tight pony tails
with greasy side burns

i thought everybody
had ashy knees and
played hide and seek
under street lights using
green utility boxes for
home base

i thought i could go to
the olympics for kickball

i just knew everybody ate
pickles with blow pops on
the inside

i thought we could all
sing and dance

i just knew everybody
thought isaac hayes looked
like santa claus

my favorite kool-aid
was the red kind

i thought everybody's
pastor had a perm

i thought all little boys
liked the little light skinned
girl with the good hair

i thought everybody had
a little white boy for a
best friend

i thought everybody put
lawries seasoning salt
on popcorn

i thought this was america

part ii...hoods

this place is a living body
where the pulse beat is human
prayers are coin tosses a gamble for your own good
a quick score a come up
this place has a metric sun bringing
order to chaos moon to mouth resuscitation
imagine this world slowed down
so you could see the clouds become rain

we come from a place where the world starts over
the dolls have straight hair braided in corn rows
mothers evolve in this space fathers invent new
wheels returning to the essence with swagger and fire

the churches are old the white tee shirt
is crisp and the hustle is american
what we covet connects us it shades us with liquor
store signs and cigarette ashes
the lyrics in this place rhyme they come from brevity
this place is infested with dice games
crying fiction over breaking dawns
the dusk has us by-standing beneath buildings
that bend our thinking

in this place anything is everything
last is a dance step
having is accomplishing
there’s a neo bop in the step of the people
they want what the sun owes them
now and for forever

this place writes poems it starts and finishes
riots it cries beads that dangle from new minds
this place is dogon mythology mud cloths and
incense smoke

this place is retroactive insistent volatile and
whole this place cuts then slices leaves backs
heavy embraces triumph it lets children dream
it is old and young pure to the taste of divinity
this place listens it hears what you are
it’s a mirror a window to the other side
a gateway passed through time and time

powdered milk

i didn’t know we were so poor. powdered milk with a teaspoon of sugar tasted just like regular milk, just a little grey in color. hand-me-downs weren’t that bad either, well they were for me because i was the only boy with 4 older sisters so my hand-me-downs came with shoulder pads.

the nickel song

jimmy had a nickel

he didn’t have it long

cuz’ all his friends found out


jimmy hadda nick       

jimmy hadda nick        

jimmy hadda nick        


i knew my mother was in a good mood when she sang this song to me. i have no idea where she got it from but the nickel part of the song was accompanied by a bounce and hug  tandem. mama sang this song with her eyes closed and a scent of brown liquor on her breath. she somehow was able to make the words to the nickel song fall into the pocket of a robert cray rhythm section. i liked this song. it was a sign that bills were paid, the refrigerator was full and her baby boy was in her lap.

                                         Ben recently received an MFA in creative writing with an emphasis in contemporary poetry from National University.