Four Poems by Brandon Douglas






In this special edition of The Mid-Atlantic Review, we celebrate the publication of Brandon Douglas’ new book, Dipped in Cerulean. Brandon is the 2023 winner of Day Eight’s DC Poet Project. Get the book here:


My daughter
Be poetry
In motion
Towards the door
As I arrive home
—Where hatred is said to be —
But right now
Love occupies this space
My baby girl is a star
With the glow of a million
I love watching her lightshow of a smile
It makes my world a better place


She too
Be poetry
In motion
Like her sister
Home is where we are
It has to be
Her father found foundation
Twice over
Strong enough to hold up the sky
So that these baby girls
Can shine
Without fearing the fall


My brother is just another number

I watched
And even helped him a little bit
Craft a life worth remembering
Worth standing out
Worth something
Other than
The number
That is now his identifier
That makes his freedom a trophy

Is this a game
Is he another notch on the belt
Of a system that’s been whooping his ass
Since our father died

Grief on Black boys
Looks like volatile hoodlums
Who don’t deserve anything other than jail
Not rehabilitation
Not therapy
They lock Black boys up for living angrily
And never stop to figure out why
Never exploring the possibility of pain having a home in
his chest

But I digress
It is called the Department of Corrections
Guess he should’ve been right
Whatever that means….


As Dr. King once asked
I wonder
How a bootless man
Can lift himself by the bootstraps
We be barefoot
On freshly paved roads
Reflecting the same smoothness
Of baby bottom
As if a new era has been born
An era that doesn’t seem interested in the old
New businesses branching into our neighborhoods
That put chokehold on the roots already here
New homes for the people who don’t belong here
Buildings that were monuments of my past are only
memories now
Public housing projects are getting knocked
Down and replaced with luxury apartments
Churches are getting replaced by condos
Nothing’s sacred anymore
I could go on
But it’ll just make me more upset and sad than I need to be
right now
I am disappointed tho
There’s all this new pavement
But still no boots
How can we be expected to gain ground
In this rat race
When we have to constantly start over
While others continue to run past us
Heads above the dust we were pushed into
Across the finish lines made for them
We’re tired of brushing ourselves off
We’re tired of the deliberate decisions disguised as our failures
We didn’t choose mediocrity
We didn’t choose despair
This pair of being oppressed and vulnerable
Be hell on the daily
But despite we still find ways to feed our babies
So I ask
When does this get to be fair
When do we get our boots
With the straps
Do we have to take them?
We don’t want yours
We want our own
All we ever wanted
Was our own

Brandon Douglas is the 2023 winner of the DC Poet Project, an annual competition designed to surface and support exceptional poets. Brandon Douglas is a professional poet and arts educator who has worked in schools, detention centers, and community centers. As a youth in DC he was a participant in one of DC’s youth slam teams. Douglas began writing raps in middle school and later melded poetry and hip hop into spoken word compositions. Father of two young girls, he is committed to the District of Columbia, and the power of community.

Image: Kurt Kaiser, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

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