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Ammons , Shirlette

Shirlette Ammons

Years: 2008


Shirlette Ammons' most recent collection of poetry, Matching Skin featuring The John Anonymous EP was published by Carolina Wren Press in 2008. first collection entitled Stumphole: Aunthology of Backwoods Blood was published by Big Drum Press in 2002. Her work has appeared in The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, What Your Momma Never Tod You: True Stories About Love and Sex, The Asheville Revielw and The Journal of the Academy of American Poets amongst other publications. She has recieved a John Hope Franklin Grant for Documentary Studies, The Ebony Harlem Award for Literary Achievement, as well as Emerging Artist Grants from the Durham Arts COuncil and the United Arts Council. She is also vocalist for the hip hop rock band Mosadi Music whose debut album, The Window, was released in 2006 and songwriter and vocalist for the fusion electronic duo, Jon Anonymous.  Shirlette resides in Durham, North Carolina.


History Makes Concessions for White Boys At the Food Lion,

this cute one hangs and guts

the pot-bellied pork;

I suppose his kisses salt and slime

Like Spam gelatin swathing my tongue

as I lipsynced good vibrations

like Mark Walberg wasn’t just

a white boy in dropped boxers

protesting the mullet


I remember his face now,

he and his girlfriend mashed like Juicy Fruit

in that big ass, dixie-flagged, Ford f-150

me, a member of the yellow school bus clique,

sitting, suffocating, three-deep in a pleathered seat;

Mexican, Black, Po White Trash, Cousins of Cousins

muddled like the fuzz between pecan trees

and A.M. radio stations;

her hands, gold nugget promise rings,

engaged his stringy hair;

as his dual mufflers fumed down Highway 403,

racial divide scoured the windshields

of our wheeled, county property


He steps outside between slaughterings

to smoke a red-boxed Marlboro.

I notice his bangs have grown out;

he stares as if my locks carry remnants

of barrettes and blurred bus numbers;

we nod and smile, an understood country greeting;

I figure he and his girlfriend still coast cramped,

the same way public transportation taught us

to squeeze tight in our assigned seats

in case the white boy’s pick-up broke down


Why else would we make room for a passenger

who never needed a ride?