This selection, chosen by guest editor Katie Manning, is from God Themselves by Jae Nichelle, released by Simon & Schuster in 2023.
Sci-Fi with Black Lead
The movies are wrong. Time is circular, meaning the future is just us older in the past. We are naked, we don’t understand science—we never did— & I love you. We’ve seen all of our terrors before, so we rebuke excess. This is enough—
gather sticks, set fires, be together. Our families have finally met.
We are still here. Your strides slow and long, you bring everyone apples to share. Where are the battles? Behind us. Where we don’t look. Where are the men? We don’t need answers, but the ocean is clear, gas-flame blue. So we ask. Have we ever seen ourselves? Look—
you, black woman, still here, me, black woman, still here.
How did we used to live? Always on our toes & ready. One might think the hunted would seek revenge. We did. We rebuilt our homes & our feet. Where are the heroes? We are still here, only no one needs to be saved.
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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