Two Poems by Ashley M. Jones

Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane No. 106

for Clif, using words from the comic book

on this daily planet, my life is good luck, all supermen at my service—I should get the pulitzer prize on the backs of metropolis’ black community / wait / tenements perplex me—how can I break through this plague, their suspicious speech, these slick-mouthed babies and their knock-slam slang // homeless ghosts on this daily planet, what is the reason for their weary report / look how the sun shines sweet and pretty on their rat-infested slums // it’s okay, I’m right / I’m whitey, never forget // Little Africa is dejected, a neighborhood of frustration / I’ll step into this machine and transform, a startling switch / Black for a day only / the hum zoom of the world staring / the smoke of white fragility / its gloomy firetrap // Black is beautiful / have you met it before, reporter / the eternal struggle of life against death by darkness / a life of please, look me straight in the eye / the constant confrontation of being Black and alive in a white man’s world / a universal outsider // so alien, even Superman couldn’t risk loving you//


Oh, what? You thought I didn’t belong here?
You thought your street was me-proof? Thought here
was a place only lilies could grow? Can you hear
my skin before you see it? Can you hear
the rap I’m blasting down your perfect street? Here,
take it—every beat will fight for me. If you can hear
it, that means I’m winning, that means you can’t hurt me here.
Means I’m belonging if it’s the last thing I do. Did you hear
the one about the black girl who just wanted to mind her
own business in a country, state, city, suburb where
their only business is making sure I’m not here?
Where my face my body my God my hair
even my right to write this sonnet right here
is policed, is stared down, is burned fast as ether.

Ashley M. Jones is a poet and educator from Birmingham, Alabama. She is the author of Magic City Gospel and dark // thing. Among her awards are the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, a Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, and the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award. She teaches at the Alabama School of Fine Arts and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and she is the founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival in Birmingham, Alabama.