Quiet 1 With Eyes by M. Nzadi Keita


“Quiet 1 With Eyes” by M. Nzadi Keita


  1. with eyes


My husband oversees the world up front 

where all the parlor-talk 

is Congress and North Star and Harper’s 


and what they Know is only what 

they Read.  When I pass, The Readers 

squint into my mouth.  

with eyes 

that you could use to sharpen something.  


I watch him worry.  watch 

him when I raise my brow

watch his eyes burn off 

my work scarf       watch him whittle me 

with the corner of his mouth

and blush as I go


up front 

I am a curiosity.     smoke. 

hail, squawking.    a twisted 

sound out of place. like a goat 

in the library.  like a hammer 

in a keyhole. like a riverbank 

giving birth to a woman.


come where it is quiet   come

through my house, to the back 

where no one is afraid

of what I say.


out back in the garden 

what I am teaching myself –

(the wild letters

 I mark down with a stick)


don’t concern the Parlor. 

 I stand at the door, black 

flesh of little use to them. 


Nothing here to buy. to Know. Nothing 

here for barter. for bluster. Debate. They 

have what they need.  they have eaten. 



Share your response to this work, in any form, here


M. Nzadi Keita’s Artist Statement: M. Nzadi Keita’s collection of persona poems, Brief Evidence of Heaven (Whirlwind Press), sheds light on Anna Murray Douglass, Frederick Douglass’s first wife for 44 years. Her journal publications include Crab Orchard Review, Mission at Tenth, American Poetry Review, and anthologies such as A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry, and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. Keita has received fellowships from the Leeway Foundation, the Fine Arts Work Center, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. After stints as a data entry clerk, a security guard, a freelance journalist, and a community health educator, Keita is now an associate professor at Ursinus College, teaching creative writing, American literature, and Africana Studies.

Author: A Room of Her Own

Share This Post On