Big mamma's Purse

Branden Janese

Everything stayed in Big Mamma’s purse.
Ass whoopins.
Her extra eyes and kerchief.

Fried chicken wrapped in foil
with a piece of white bread
with the crust
cut off.
Some hot sauce.

for her only grand baby's
ashy ankles.
Pills for her blood
hard candies for her

Coupons, food stamps,
light bills, heat bills,
Flat shoes and old blues.
A sandwich baggie with laundry money.

“Big Mamma, can I have some quarter coins?”
Hand me my purse.
“Big Mamma, you got a smoke?”
Hand me my purse.

She had switches and kisses with red lips she put on in the gypsy cabs.

The purse came with two straps.
She wore the short strap
the night she died.

On a Friday,
she walked home, lit a smoke,
and put the fire back in her purse.

At her house,
on her lawn,
a pink man dressed in blue
kicked and hit her
only grand baby.

Big Mamma ran to her son’s son
and helped him stand.

The pink man
in blue
drew his pistol,
hot to shoot.

“I stole soda from the store.” The little boy confessed.
Let’s get in the house, they got slicker thieves to catch.
“Get on your knees now or I’ll light your black asses up!”

Grand baby wet his pants,
urine streaked his ashy ankles.

Still smoking,
Big Mamma reached in her purse, for a tissue
to wipe her grand baby up.
Before she pulled her hand out,
the law shot her to the ground.
He screamed, “Stop resisting!”  
While he handcuffed her corpse.


I'm a writer and illustrator based in NYC. I study creative writing at The New School, in the Riggio Honors Program, where I'm in my final semester. I love fables and the pages of James Baldwin. I work in book publishing.