Two Poems by Zorina Exie Frey

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Momma’s Corn Pudding

“Soul food: Scraps became cuisine celebrating African-American spirit.”
~Tim Grant, Pittsburg Post-Gazette, February 3, 2006.

Up to plate.
It looks like a typical pan of corn
until you cut your spoon into it.
The corn doesn’t spill into the crevice.

Its consistency is firmer. That’s when you realize,
this ain’t the maize your momma serves out the can or shucks from the stalk.
This corn is amalgamated with sugar milled from islands,
picked with brown and indigo fingers clawing into home base.

“I’m safe!”

screams the spirit, but the umpire isn’t playing by the rules.

“You’re out!”
of your country,
of your heritage,
of your culture,
of your food,
even your speech.

You are out

in the fields under southern sun
shucking and singing spirituals of how sweet sweet that corn pudding will be
when made with hands that are free.

What the TV show Yellowstone didn’t say about the Black cowboy

“But where are the stories of all enslaved Black servants who worked with horses, who wanted to mount and ride away from endless servitude? Those stories are silenced.” ~Bell Hooks

Instead of cotton & tobacco, you got cows & bulls.
Bought. Led out to pasture.

Hey Boy, you got the short end of the stick!
No one can hear you scream. Too far from town. Too far
from anyone to see you look free. Too far

from anyone seeing you do it better than me. On my ranch
it’s ok to ride the horses now.

Wrangle dem cows, Boy!
Get dem dogs to help, Boy!
Like how they used to chase you down, Boy.
Dem yours to train, Boy.

Get dem cows, Boy!
You ain’t nothing but a cow, Boy!
You ain’t nothing but a cowboy!

Herd dem from meadow to pasture.
Break dem nags like we broke you.
Brand dem cows like I branded you, Boy.
Brand yer brother, Boy.
You ain’t nothing but a cow

Boy, you sure know how to handle dat nag,
even got a little swag. My daughters sneak to see
you rope-a-dope in the sun glistening

Black, ya’ll make cow’ing look easy,
riding the bull’s neck!

Fucking cowboy.

Zorina Exie Frey is a 2023 Pushcart Prize Winner, Adjunct English Instructor, and spoken-word poet living in Maryland. Her work has appeared in Glassworks Magazine, Shondaland, and the forthcoming anthology An Introduction to Afrofuturism: A Mixtape in Black Literature & Arts. Additional credits include: Chicken Soup for the Soul, I’m Speaking Now, Black Women Sharing Their Truth in 101 Stories of Love, Courage, and Hope. 

Featured Imaged: Texas State Historical Association, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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