Monica A. Hand







I’ve known rivers and fire

                    after Nancy Morejón


Never known Coral Island

or River Senegal

still know sea is home.

Remember wreck:


striking, breaking, sinking,

drowning in green algae;

know the beaches of Atlantic,

Far Rockaway; know fire —


tenements burning

like crops of sugar cane;

hear sounds, I write,

knowing their meaning.


Feet and torso, like yours,

move to the rumba, swing low.



Monica A. Hand © 2014






Tara House sits on a hill

reminder of back doors


yellow throat’s south

white sycamore  ash


magnolia skull oak belly

barely visible south


flying carp and blue

ships cruising south


banked at the river

cross bones wave


no longer shallow

sea shrines burned


a woman’s contralto

deep sorrow south



Monica A. Hand © 2014




…these sites of denigration and violence

have become sites for tourism

—    James Early, Smithsonian Institution




See there,

where grief lingers where flesh

became an obsession, drunk;

the way the ocean stunk, as if

land marked with stinky flesh

could bare the consuming.



Monica A. Hand © 2014











Monica A. Hand is the author of me and Nina, (Alice James Books, 2012), short-listed for the 2013 Hurston Wright Legacy Award and finalist for the 2012 Foreword Book of the Year. Her poems have been published in Oxford AmericanSpoon River Poetry ReviewBlack Renaissance Noire, The Sow’s Ear, The Wide Shore, Drunken BoatAmerican Creative Writers on Class, and Beyond the Frontier, African-American Poetry for the 21st Century. A Cave Canem Alum, she has a MFA in Poetry and Poetry in Translation from Drew University, and currently, she is a PhD candidate in Poetry at the University of Missouri- Columbia.


me and Nina


« Monica Hand’s me and Nina is a beautiful book by a soul survivor. In these poems she sings deep songs of violated intimacy and the hard work of repair. The poems are unsentimental, blood-red, and positively true, note for note, like the singing of Nina Simone herself. Hand has written a moving, deeply satisfying, and unforgettable book. »

—       Elizabeth Alexander


“The message in the so-sick-it muse ic is all on the cover, O’Jays style. The bills are pressing but this book (a We) can help you (Now!) gain a stamp of heritage, your own postal traveling shoes, in the office of International (if not Domestic) Acceptance especially if the real tradition, a mature Langston Hughes in a hat, frames your introduction.”
—    Boston Review


fiercely illuminated by declaration and song

—      Terrance Hayes





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