DO NOT PRAY
by monica prince
When they find my body between drywall and insulation,
or my throat slit like a second smile, or my guts writhing
on ashy sidewalk, or my fingers digesting in the stomach
of some man, or my spine gunfire-curled, or my eyes
missing—when it is too late to ask why I was alone
or near water or not wearing a bulletproof vest or not studying
with my friends or not taking out the garbage or not home
watching sitcoms with my sister—do not ask who killed me.
Rather, dig into your own rotting cells. Ask what weapon
removes and loses children like me. Exhume the graves of my mothers.
Do not lay pennies at my fathers’ feet, apologize into cameras, or
bury me with flowers. There is not enough gold to cover silence.
Not enough water to erode sin. I do not want your hash tags,
your legislature, your promises. No movement ever saved
melanin splattered on the city’s walls. When they find me,
lit on a mountain signaling God to take us back—do not pray.
Monica Prince, a Black performance poet raised by Guyanese parents, teaches activist and performance writing at Susquehanna University in central Pennsylvania, where she writes choreopoems and performance poetry. Her debut poetry collection, Instructions for Temporary Survival (2019), won the Discovery Award for an outstanding first collection by the publisher, Red Mountain Press. She is the managing editor of the Santa Fe Writers Project Quarterly, author of the choreopoem How To Exterminate The Black Woman (PANK, 2020) and the author of the chapbook Letters from the Other Woman (Grey Book Press, 2018). Her creative work is featured in MadCap Review, The Texas Review, TRACK//FOUR, and elsewhere.