by | Jan 21, 2016 | Poetry

            with a hat tip to Joshua Bennett


[ \ˈspād\ ] – noun

  1. a tool for digging with a long handle and a blade flatter and narrower than a shovel.

Example: When the little black boy came up missing and the hounds followed the fingerprints he left in the air until they disappeared, the menfolk cut a mouth into the ground with their spades and pulled his bones out like a chicken’s picked clean by precise teeth.

  1. That which is called itself when someone is being especially candid.

Example: So he’s talking and talking and talking about all these women and he says he’s not really attracted black girls to which I called a spade a spade and said, “that’s racist as shit, my dude” and he looked at me all confused because he’s like, “but I’m black” and I’m like, “but they let you in their house and you never left.”

  1. A singular card played in the same-named suit as in the same-named game (titled in the plural form) popular among African-Americans requiring each single player from a partnership to bid on how many ‘books’ or ‘tricks’ they expect to win for their team during a round of play based on the cards in their given hands and their ability to communicate effectively without talking.

Example: We were playing Spades and Granddaddy was my partner and he’s from Mississippi and he’s real dark-skinned and his eyes were red and he had that look in them like he could kill some self-righteous white folks and that’s how I knew he had face cards in his hands staring back at him and I had two aces, a queen, and seven spades in my hand that might trump everything but I hedged and figured we could get wiped out for my being uppity and living with too much hope so I took my eyes off him, bid an anxious five and tried to make it out alive.

  1. Slang: a black person (derogatory).



Photo by Craig Sunter

About The Author

Cortney Lamar Charleston

Cortney Lamar Charleston is a Cave Canem fellow and Pushcart Prize nominated poet living in Jersey City, NJ. His poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Beloit Poetry Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Eleven Eleven, Fugue, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Journal, The Normal School, Pleiades, Rattle, Southern Humanities Review and elsewhere.