Issue 2 / Poetry

Poetry by Lucy E. Thornton-Berry

Photo of Lucy's Brother, James Ingram in 1959. "He was 14 yrs old., tall, lanky and going to the county fair in Winston Salem, N.C. with his two older brothers to meet some girls...this would be his first encounter with girls.  "He dressed in his Sunday best high-water khakis, his brother's hand-me-down jacket and a stingy brim hat.  He thought he was cool."

Photo of Lucy’s Brother, James Ingram in 1959.

Sap’s a Risin’


little bro started takin’

more than his usual

once a week

Sat’day nite bath

and daddy’s cologne

mysteriously began

to evaporate and

his good leather belt

seems to have disappeared

little bro’s jeans now had

to have a razor sharp crease

his tennis shoes gave way

to brown leather loafers

and sweat shirts that he

swore never needed washing

changed to handsome crisp

button-down shirts

and all night every night

basketball games came to a halt

says he doesn’t like to

perspire anymore and

nails black with Lawd knows

what are now carefully manicured

i said momma what’s goin

on with that boy and

she just laughed and mumbled

and said, the sap’s a risin

ol’ honey boy is jest smellin himself

sniffin the wind and smellin himself


Lucy E. Thornton-Berry is a retired librarian in pursuit of her passion for poetry after a twenty-year pause. Her poetry has been published and editorialized in the Zora Neale Hurston Forum Magazine, Urban Profile Magazine, Jubilee Magazine and The Lansing Michigan Capital Times. Her poems are included in the anthologies, Adam of Ife: Black Women in Praise of Black Men (1992) and the recently released, Black Gold: An Anthology of Black Poetry (2014). This poem was selected by Maisha Z. Johnson.

Literature without diverse voices is like a salad without croutons, cucumbers, onions, chicken, radishes, cheese, strawberries, ham, nuts, grapes, and a variety of dressings … just plain, bland, uninspiring, unsatisfying, unappealing, quickly wilting lettuce.

Image © Lucy E. Thornton-Berry. Photo of James Ingram at 14, 1959 in Winston Salem, NC.  Subject of “Sap’s a Risin'”