Nigga nigga nigga nigga
WHAT? But it sounds
pretty when the singer sings it

it sounds brotherly
then fatherly
and I don't know how
this musician did it

but it doesn't sound like
"nigger" it doesn't sound
like "colored," more seductive

more precise than any
Crayola crayon color
could scribble about his

heritage about his culture
about his face his place
his race &#mdash; and yet even if

I sing it right
in tune I can not sing it
so when that part

of the song comes I stay
silent and it feels like
showing respect
it feels like

saying goodbye
to something
that has died
with honor

About the Poet

Marylisa Dedomenicis was the 2010 recipient of the Toni Brown Memorial Scholarship. Her most recently accepted poems appeared in SUNY's Literary Journal, The Healing Muse, and the online literary journal Scythe. Her poems have been published in the books To Have and to Hold: Prayers, Poems, and Blessings for Newlyweds (Center Street/Time Warner Books), Heal Your Heart, Heal Your Soul (Andrews McMeel Press), and Looking For God In All The Right Places (Loyola Press). Her chapbook, Almost All Red, was nominated for a Pushcart prize. In September 2006 her poem “Drawing An Equation,” a Ginsberg finalist published in The Paterson Literary Review, was performed as interpreted by actors and actresses at the Ritz Theatre, located just outside of Philadelphia (sponsored by New Jersey State Council on the Arts). Additional bio information can be found at