Leslie Joy Ahenda
the nice ones all got shot.
a woman knots her fists & disregards
her joints—swelling means her blood
is not yet on pavement. in sleep
a woman majesticizes a man unshackled.
wakes to a man praying
only for his brothers.
please. nigga fronts like the lust in his eyes
is a yellow that will cool her burning knees.
says he’d die to protect a sister but sis will see
through his scheme
a man has seen too much. a man has been
too many times a scapegoat when the state
floats on gunpowder. a man sells his hands
to buy a new tongue
to pray to a new beat
to digest a faster aspirin
to drive an invisible car
to smoke a blurrier pipe
to drop a loftier venom
to destroy a guiltless backpack
to divine a future survival
still still still still still
to watch another negro
hit the ground running
“a rich nigga bit it tonight
goes to show
we’ll never be nothin but niggas.”
upstreet a chalk stick rolls down a gutter
but no one was using it here. no one marks
the dead ones anymore. can’t keep track anymore.
everywhere a woman walks her feet go red
but still she’d rather walk alone.
“this nigga out here like the next MLK
like fucking a black bitch is revolutionary praxis.”
cottoncandy mouth a violet blunt and sixteen
reasons to leave him a woman catches fire-
flies in her teeth. saves them for later. can’t risk
losing the upper hand anymore. as her mother
taught her she destroys in herself the desire
for love without a violent lung.
“hope is for the boys in black hoodies—
don’t waste it on yourself child.”
blue uniforms in blackstealth cars
whip the ground into shape.
the only kindness left a playpark
where all the hoops are yellow
but kids don’t play even there.
“damn he cut that bitch up too?
thought she could be the one
to get him to put the knife down.”
sis been knew.
nigga acting all shocked that cop walked
losing his damn mind again
cause some MAGA ass judge said
it ain’t the cops job to protect us—
a woman has seen
too many sisters become secrets
& secrets become malignant
cut away by men in ambitious shoes.
a cop wouldn’t believe what happened to her
& she doesn’t want a man shot anyway.
“then what do you want.”
Leslie Joy Ahenda is a queer black diasporic poet living and working on unceded Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ territory. Educated at the University of Victoria, she has poetry published or forthcoming in CV2, filling Station, and Poetry is Dead.