all poems by Marcus Amaker.


the word “black,”
by definition,
means “the absence of light.”
but I am much more
than a shadow.
sometimes blackness
is the darkness
that haunts
unenlightened minds
and sometimes
people talk about me
as if I am a cold, night sky
without the spark of a bonfire.
but, being black,
by definition,
is luminary
because being black
is beautiful.

the spirit of freedom,
by definition,
is the absence of war,
but freedom has to be
fought for.
we’ve lost too many battles
tiptoeing around
land mines of ignorance.
there are bombs of broken ash
buried in the blood
of enslaved hearts.
but the definition of freedom
is boundless
because the spirit of freedom
is beautiful.

to be human,
by definition,
is to be flesh and bone
but our flesh
has been a bone of contention.
even love is unsafe
from the fires of hatred,
where judgement burns our skin
with scars.
but being human,
by definition,
is not without pain.
being human
is beautiful.


when the lights flash at 2a.m.,
every person in dimmed shadow
becomes enlightened
even though
they are scrambling
for another conversation
with darkness and drama.


John L. Dart Library

the man at the pulpit
says “I have faith
that one day we will see her
in the morning.”
And I started thinking
about that word. Mourning.
How one letter can change a world,
how one woman can change
a community. You see,
his sister is now one of our angels.
One of the Emanuel 9.
And maybe he meant “morning,”
but I couldn’t help
but think about Charleston,
still in mourning.


Hampton Park #1

if you look closely,
each path of this park
is as reliable
as the dawn’s persistance of a new day.
whether paved or littered with sand,
the grounds hold
footprints of change.
the humid soil
nurtures new flowers,
the air can’t hide its thick history.


Hampton Park #2

there is a certain way
that light bends
upon tree limbs
when I walk through
Hampton Park.
Sunlight is a welcome friend
after my contentious relationship
with a restless night.
my morning’s path
is the path of these grounds.
they always lead me
back to my core.


The Commodore

the “touch of class” sign
outside of the bar
is like a relic.
a dinosaur bone
with the memory of flesh,
now frozen in time
in a museum of our own making.
the history feels like a fable.
the photos on the wall
show large footprints,
and paint a much different picture
than what I’m seeing tonight.


Poet, at the Shops of Charleston Place

I probably look creepy,
sitting on a beach outside
of a lingerie store,
pen and paper in hand.
but everone around me
is staring at their phones,
bllinded by consumerism,
no poems came
to me today.


Market Street

feet, shuffling in
from the heat,
walk through
an air-conditioned snapshot
of Charleston.
thousands of
slowly weave through
a narrow path
to catch a tiny glimpse
of our city,
packed together
tighter than
the woven threads
of sweetgrass


Elliotborough Mini Bar

we come here in full armor
carrying weapons of words,
ready to go to war
with demons of insecurity.
our battlefield is the stage
and our shields are up
until poetry
breaks it all down.

Go top