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Brionne Janae

Years: 2014, 2016, 2018


Brionne Janae is a Southern California native who came to Boston to get an MFA at Emerson College. While in California, Brionne received her B.A. at U.C. Berkeley where she was a Student Teacher Poet in the Poetry for the People class/movement. As an STP Brionne had the privilege of teaching, learning and writing poetry within a “beloved community” inspired and developed by the late June Jordan. Brionne is currently an instructor at Bunker Hill Community College. Her work as a poet has been published or is forthcoming in Plume, Apogee JournalToe Good PoetryRedivider, Fjords Review, and others. Brionne is the winner of the 2014 Muriel Craft Bailey Contest from the Comstock Review judged by Kwame Dawes, and her first manuscript was selected by Michael Ryan for Emerson Colleges Best Thesis Award.  Brionne's debut collection, After Jubilee  (Boaat Press, 2017), was also was selected by Dorianne Laux as the finalist for the 2016 BOAAT Book Prize.




again the blessed sunday bird went to fire whole.

your momma, all shined in her church things turned over


the shanty, she hunting for that good butcher

knife all day, cursing daddy and begging Christ ha’mercy.


you can hear her from the maize, you kneeling, knees dug

in the earth like this the last time, for sure, this the last


time. you don’t know no more how long

you called yourself quitting but still can’t forget


those little hurts. like how the veins jump

from momma’s throat when she whip eggs whites for easter pudding,


haul an ax over her back, or strike daddy with leaden fists

when he stagger home late slathered in blues.


and so early before the friday night hootch fled

his body you filched daddy’s butcher knife


hid in the tall swaying stalks settling your want in blood

crawling from your skin a freed thing calling on God.


Published by Nashville Review




For Laura Nelson 1878-1911



when they had done with her and the torches

were extinguished with dew, and she lay

like something decaying in mulch,

blood muddied hair, slip bunched about her hips.

when she smelled like the sheets at Rising Sun,


and men scattered like mice before lamplight

and her breath still came like a locomotive before it stalled,

and her arms were tucked beneath her

and her eyes swollen shut. when George had gone for the camera,

took to finding the perfect spot upriver and we were ready

to cast her down to swing beside her son.


I knelt and unbound her arms

to pull them still warm in the sleeve

to lift the brassiere to its proper place

button the blouse, fetch the skirt

from among thick roots where one man pissed

onto the bark. I slid her naked feet

through the opening, lifted the hips

fixed the clasps about her waist.


and we stood on the bridge as the Canadian stretched

calm beneath us, their bodies reflecting with the trees.


Published by Toe Good Poetry




spread the bolls to shuck their down

still sow-thistle flowering and necks to bear the yoke.


still the north star tilting north,

a need to cull the freed to freedom.


the weary still cover their dead with groans

and You slumber


deaf to the faithful calling. Lord hear us

witness our yearning,

bodies grown ancient, thin as that old shanty woman,

knee bones pushing through her skirt.


yet look how she leans forward, still turning

at the sun, still expectant. God


we have been a long time waiting, give up Your bed,

Lord, walk with us.


Published by Kinfolks Quarterly