This selection, chosen by guest editor Katie Manning, is from God Themselves by Jae Nichelle, released by Simon & Schuster in 2023.
after Lucille Clifton’s “why some people be mad at me
when I die they will say I tempted the gun. they will look at my body, bloodied, & ask the gun why I deserved it. seductress me, flesh hot & begging to be pierced. the gun, I must remember is just a gun. strong, but easily convinced. when I resurrect, they will say witch. say I must want the attention of more guns. they’ll come for me, use my resilience to justify excessive force. the guns, I must remember, are scared of me. I am their warm-bodied antithesis in their memories. though in mine, I was simply born & blamed for it. it’s my fault. I know they will eventually say I did it, keep stressing how tired I was, how the on- ly witnesses are remembering wrong. the gun, they’ll say, was always mine.
Jae Nichelle is the author of the poetry chapbook The Porch (As Sanctuary) from YesYes Books; the inaugural poetry winner of the John Lewis Writing Award from the Georgia Writers Association; and her poetry has appeared in Best New Poets 2020, The Washington Square Review, The Offing Magazine, Muzzle Magazine, and elsewhere. Her spoken word poems have been featured by Write About Now, Speak Up Poetry Series, and Button Poetry.
Katie Manning is the author of Hereverent (Agape Editions), Tasty Other (winner of the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award), and six chapbook collections, including How to Play (Louisiana Literature Press) and 28,065 Nights (River Glass Books). Her poem “What to Expect” was featured on the Poetry Unbound podcast, and her poems have appeared in HAD, Poet Lore, SWWIM, Stirring, Thimble, Verse Daily, and many other venues. Katie is the founder and editor-in-chief of Whale Road Review and a professor of writing at Point Loma Nazarene University.
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