Poetry: Golden Shovel by Jae Nichelle

Jae Nichelle has made a poem that does what a poem ought to do: stuff the barrel, place a stack of words and truth between the bullet and its target. Terrance Hayes describes the rules behind the Golden Shovel’s structure here. And you can better understand the conversation Nichelle is having with Lucille by reading the original poem here.

Golden Shovel

after Lucille Clifton’s “why some people be mad at me sometimes”

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

Jae Nichelle is a storyteller on the page and the stage. She is the author of the poetry chapbook The Porch (As Sanctuary), and her debut full-length collection, God Themselves, is forthcoming in March 2023.

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