Brandy E. Underwood


All along Wilshire Boulevard 
Plywood replaces shop windows. 
Blank boards become bandages 
For wounds left unattended.

Wooden walls transform 
Into canvas like a child’s cast 
Meant to mend a broken bone,
Doodles cover pain, make it lighter to carry. 

Like the Berlin Wall after the fall, 
Barriers evolve into easels. 
An unexpected springtime gallery; 
Murals constructed by moonlight.

All Avant-garde in color:
Black fists lifted in U.N.I.T.Y. 
Black women in Kente-cloth.
Black Lives Matter on every block.

Then out of the corner of my eye,
A black cherub on Wilshire Boulevard appears
Guarding Eden’s gates, no doubt.
Black child flying through the air. 

Chubby little legs lifted by tiny wings.
Long hot-pink hair flowing in the breeze 
Like Rihanna, like Barbie, like Lil’ Kim, and 
Rasberry lips to match; ready with cupid’s kiss.

Hands outstretched sending pixelated, 
Heart-shaped vials of psychedelic self-love 
To black mortals in despair. Her message on the wall: 
I wouldn’t want to be anything I’m not. 

Brandy E. Underwood is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at California State University, Northridge, where she specializes in African American literature and culture.