Poetic Hill: The Black Men Outside the Waterfront Safeway

Photo: Adedayo Kosoko

Alexa Patrick is a vocalist and poet from Connecticut who lives in Southwest D.C. She holds fellowships from Cave Canem, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and more. Alexa is currently the Programs Director for Shout Mouse Press.

In spring 2023, Alexa made her stage production debut as Un/Sung in the opera We Shall Not Be Moved, directed by Kennedy Center honors awardee Bill T. Jones.

You may find her work in publications including The Adroit Journal, CRWN Magazine, and The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic. Her debut collection Remedies for Disappearing will be published by Haymarket Books in June. Visit alexapatrick.com for more.

The Black Men Outside the Waterfront Safeway

are a steady ballet of hands,
cipher of dab and dozen
transform Southwest street corner
into Carnegie Hall.

I walk by. They quiet,
shield me from what profanity
fills the gaps in their teeth,
those golden smiles, the slick
tongues that make them.

Some trickle in across 4th
defying oncoming traffic.
Hood Moseses knowing
they control the wave.

Everyday, no matter
the time they gather
by gum-addled cement,
overflowing trash bins,
neglected memorial benches,
just to see each other—

A remedy to whatever else
might disappear.

Sandra Beasley is the curator of “Poetic Hill,” a resident of Southwest, and the author of four poetry collections. If you live in D.C. and you’re interested in being featured, you can reach her at sandrabeasley@earthlink.net for questions and submissions (1-5 poems).