“…We are Black Dandelions.
We will never be destroyed.
We grow the power of goodness for generations into the future!…”

–      Semaj Brown
Flint, Michigan’s Inaugural Poet Laureate
Academy of American Poets Poets Laureate Fellow

Black Dandelion By Semaj Brown

Age four— Witnessed my first mow down
Twinkling ground stars, cut by a murderous lawn mower
Feeling the blade, I fell, curled like a snail in grief

12 full moons folded into Spring — Perennial promises prevailed
Bees celebrated return of dandelions in a skirt of twirling, yellow bliss
Flowering bouffant mirrored my spiky little afro
Jagged edged “lion’s tooth” leaves paid tribute to my snag-a-tooth smile
Me and my freedom fighting flowers frolicked to survive the
scissoring, up-digging, poisoning
Warning Signs hovered like low hanging clouds:
No Blooming Allowed; Blossoms Will be Prosecuted
These brave plants grew just for me
Grew in spite of a society that favored a monochromatic landscape

1965— Mr. Brother Malcolm X was assassinated, big word for a pre-kindergartner.
I was convinced he must have been a dandelion, Reverend King too,
and the Johnson boy who lived one turn down the street, that way.
The Johnson boy was shot by the police for growing in a monochromatic landscape.

Training Wheels Off—Bike riding across insecure cement, I peddled the bumpy path
waving solidarity to each surviving, sunburst noggin, each fulfilling the promise to ornament lawns and flourish souls with lemon drop hope

Dandelions bare art of
endurance and escape
transforming into  pearl puffs
floating with ephemeral intention
carrying the spirit of the weed.

13 Full moons faded into July — “I am a proud weed!”

Yes, I declared that shocking proclamation standing in the pulpit on Youth Sunday
Vernon Chapel A.M.E. Church
I added to my  speech on David and Goliath
my impromptu improvisation of Dandelion Dogma:

“We are Black Dandelions who will NEVER be destroyed.
 We grow the power of goodness for generations into the future!”

I yet remember the hat framed faces of the pious, amused and mortified.

Semaj Brown,
Flint Michigan’s Inaugural Poet Laureate
Academy of American Poets Poets Laureate Fellow

© 2020 | Published: Thoughts on the Power of Goodness Edited by Timothy Crowley and Jaki Shelton Green
Chapel Hill Press Inc., Chapel Hill, NC
Academy of American Poets

Dear Semaj Brown 2022
Student Letters in Response to Black Dandelion

As part of the 2022 Dear Poet project, students around the country and the world wrote letters to Semaj Brown in response to a video of her reading her poem “Black Dandelion.”

View Black Dandelion Art Video

The video Black Dandelion was featured on The “New” McCree Theatre Virtual Youth Poetry Explosion, 2021

Black Dandelion Poetry featured in AT&T Dream In Black