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Callaloo 25.2 (2002) 402

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Don't Be Cruel

Yona Harvey

Don't lie. You stood
in the nosebleed section of Cincinnati Gardens
snapping with a 110 camera
photographs that would never develop
beyond blurs of lavender & white light.
Bobby Brown shook his hips,
but not like he'd done in Georgia
the previous month, fined
& reprimanded for tempting
the Coca-Cola president's daughter.
Before Whitney crowned him
"King of R & B" & the Japanese coined
his the face of American coco-jin,
Little Bobby shimmied beyond
the talent show stages of Boston
to international arenas,
the final member of New Edition.
Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky & Mike!
You chimed with Ralph, the group's
pretty boy, & on the ride home fought
with friends about who would be his wife.
Bobby's darker skin made him a lesser
alternative among girls with pressed hair
too silly to admire his fine face above
the goofy grins of his lighter brothers.
But Bobby popped his hips harder until
he went solo, until
he became the man who bragged
he'd never collect a check split five ways.


Yona Harvey is a graduate of Howard University and The Ohio State University, where she received the MFA degree. She lives in Pittsburgh.



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