Karla Brundage
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Swallowing Watermelons

(Waiting for the phone to ring)


Swallowing whole watermelons of sorrow

breaths come shallow

like one no longer

dependent on the earth to give her breath.

Grasping but not reaching

our child is a lifeline to your absence

beholden through tangle of wires

invisible vines of communication,

forever linked by her birth.

I am you now

you are me now

she is us.

Great Grandmother Maude

hanging clothes in the summer

that's how I remember her

white sheets



hot Alabama


beating down on her

disguised behind

a celebrating sky

symphony of clouds


and southern hospitality


they are billowing

in the breeze

starched and white

she is

in an apron

it is white

and her dress is yellow

her long black hair is pulled back into a bun

but it keeps slipping out

and she

uses her free hand to brush it back






she hums a love song

Dinah Washington

hums to herself as she remembers

not her children

or her job

not her husband


but she remembers

last night

the sweetest shadow

the slightest sound

and the deepest pleasure

in between these same sheets

which she is washing only because

the evidence must be hidden


her man

not the first or

even her second

he is the young one

fiery and lovely

from across the way

he is the one who is really going someplace

his skin is black as

the Alabama sky is blue

and his kisses are so hot that she shivers in

the relentless sun

she is humming a tune

that only a lady who flirts with death

knows how to sing


and that is how I first remember her.


the next memory is of her


there on those same sheets

laying on the ground with the laundry basket

still on her hip  as if stuck

blood staining the sheets

red evidence of passing

her throat is slit

and her life

seeps away into the ground in shame

a no good woman

left to be remembered by no one

this is my great grand mother

the woman no one spoke of for years

the woman who

marked the beginning

of what

I don't know

Wanna be white girl

I was a white girl once

who dreamed of riding a Harley Davidson

and drinking vodka straight

while leaning over a pool table

tattoo on my ankle

that said property of...


I was a white girl

who had white friends

and white boyfriends

who loved me and

drank with me

locked me in closets

told racial jokes and

then apologized


We drank gin and tonic

and roamed the streets

looking for trouble

because it never did seem to come to us.


I was white


I was white

and I wore torn blue jeans and tie dye

I listened to the Rolling Stones

and Lynard Skynard

I lived the words and knew the pain they held.


When I was white I dreamed of being

Old Home’s Day Queen

at the county fair

where music was real

and women wore cowboy boots

I had my Stetson and my

Buck knife


I danced the two step

and played Bingo on Saturday nights


when I was white I loved a man

named Cincinnatuss who drove a Harley

flew colors, and lived in West Virginia

we drank every type of liquor all

mixed up into one

we danced to country music

and fell out the door when it was time to go

when we fought

it was violent

but I loved him like I have never loved


I rode in fast cars listening to the WHO

asking "who are you?"


but I was white

I was

I was in on the secrets

the truths the lies

the only problem was

that people kept mistaking me for being

Hawaiian or Chinese


or Black


So I looked in the mirror and saw

my skin is brown

my hair is brown

my eyes are brown

and I wondered

where did god go wrong

because being a white girl

trapped in a Black body

is no small mistake

and the stress was beginning to take its toll.


you see even though Van Morrison sang

Brown Eyed Girl

I knew there was more to it than that

because didn't nobody really

seem to want to marry me

and not many people really took

me seriously

and for some reason

I just didn't seem to fit,

older I got-

no matter how much I drank.


So, I killed her

I killed that white girl that I once was

I stopped her life

cut it short with one clean swipe

no more Led Zeppelin

no more white boyfriends

no more dreams of making my brown eyes blue


But I was a white girl once

you wouldn't know it by looking

that once dreamed of drinking vodka

straight while laying back on a pool table

tattoo on my ankle that said

property of......

how to stop |



______________ like teachers..like child predators..like sex offenders


{rules and regulations … lists} |

16 (only) killed in Cote d’Ivoire terror attack- someone tried to stop it|


                                          afraid to get out of the car|

are we at war?


                                                                               but he was

                                                                               white | she was a girl |

endorsed by NRA..Border Patrol..Brothers in Blue |

my daughter’s platelet count in DC | she’s black|

                                                                               shot in my neighborhood yesterday-

                                                                               (not the first time so why does it matter


It always mattered.

Matter always Black. 90’s seemed so simple when it was just black on black

I never thought blue on black was bluer that blue

black and blue- as Day says- what did I do?



Sun bleeds through the dust of dusky

Evening commute.

Blood of the orb cuts

clouds and din.


Penetrating every reassurance

is certainty you are gone.


Tires roll on oil slick of melted tarmac.

They say it is the cold season, but I sweat.

Wind pulls illness into our throats.

Stifled by this loss-

Shrouded in Memory