You don’t know sin
until you’ve been the black girl
in the cab of a white boy’s Chevy
parked outside a Circle K
when his door shoves another white boy
by mistake and their puffed chests circle
while you watch through the window,
until the one you’re with is ready
to smash a push broom
over the other one’s head
. . . as soon as he’s finished his monologue: Dude,
I’m just trying to buy some condoms
and get some ass. Once he’s pointed you out,
once you smile and wave just your fingers
as the rage drains from their faces
once they’ve shaken hands and you believe yourself
common ground, a peace maker—that cute,
without wondering what message
passed between their palms,
only then can you begin to know
how darkness deepened
beneath that slow-setting sun.
This selection comes from the book of poetry, “Blues Triumphant” by Jonterri Gadson, which is available to purchase here from YesYes Books.
Jonterri Gadson is the author of the chapbooks Interruptions (MIEL, 2014) and Pepper Girl (YesYes Books, 2012). She has received scholarships and fellowships from Cave Canem, Bread Loaf, University of Dayton and the University of Virginia where she received her MFA in Creative Writing. She is also a graduate of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. Her poetry has appeared in Callaloo, Los Angeles Review, The Collagist, and other journals. She currently serves as Assistant Professor of Creative Writing/English at Bloomfield, College in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter at @JaytotheTee.
librecht baker. Long Beach, CA native. Member of Dembrebrah West African Drum and Dance Ensemble. MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. VONA/Voices and Lambda Literary Writer Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices Fellow. Poetry is forthcoming in Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices (Trans-Genre Press) and is included in CHORUS: A Literary Mixtape (MTv Books).