Edict for Negro Advancement by Kira Tucker

The best way to make dreams come true is to wake up.
                                                                                       —Mae C. Jemison

Sew a pocket in your coat to keep your freedom papers
safe—patrollers will snag you like fly paper.

Hope your skin is brighter than the shopping bag
hanging by the parlor door. Pick up a paper

route that pays, but keep off whitefolk streets.
Stow away your worth: a pallet holding paper.

Strike for your right to the poll box. Learn
your way through ivy estates and lace paper

rites. Earn your own gold-sealed decree. Witness
your life’s unspooling—gauzy skein, crepe paper

reel. Chant a litany of loss in centuries of song. Mask
your rage as if to lacquer a mistake on your paper’s

white face. Yield your little dark ones this world you know
won’t keep them whole—they’ll forge their own on paper.

Kira Tucker is an artist from Memphis, Tennessee and a current MFA+MA candidate in poetry at Northwestern University. Kira’s work appears in Tupelo QuarterlyThe Spectacle, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from the Hurston/Wright Foundation and Tin House.