ancestors by t’ai freedom ford


both granny and papa, or at least the dust
of what’s left of them, lie in unmarked graves
barely buried       funerals become makeshift
family reunions   fashions shows of fried chicken
& borrowed suits    paper plates & collection
plates cause don’t matter who died    preacher gets paid
while we get drunk or high      or full on sweet potato pie
and i am ashamed    not of my broke(n) ass
family but of myself for not knowing
where i might rip overgrown weeds from stubborn
roots—where i might place these wilting white lilies
why, amidst all these stony names, does the dirt
all look the same    and how many times have i
earned the chiseled cement to set them apart




t’ai freedom ford is a New York City high school English teacher and Cave Canem Fellow. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Drunken Boat, Sinister Wisdom, No, Dear, The African American Review, Vinyl, Muzzle, Poetry and others. Her work has also been featured in several anthologies including The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. In 2012 and 2013, she completed two multi-city tours as a part of a queer women of color literary salon, The Revival. t’ai lives and loves in Brooklyn, but hangs out digitally