Ghazal for White Hen Pantry

beverly be the only south side you don’t fit in
everybody in your neighborhood color of white hen

brown bag tupperware lunch don’t fill you
after school cross the street, count quarters with white friends

you love 25¢ zebra cakes mom would never let you eat
you learn to white lie through white teeth at white hen

oreos in your palm, perm in your hair
everyone’s irish in beverly, you just missin’ the white skin

pray they don’t notice your burnt toast, unwondered bread
you be the brownest egg ever born from the white hen

pantry in your chest where you stuff all the Black in
distract from the syllables in your name with a white grin

keep your consonants crisp, coffee milked, hands visible
never touch the holiday-painted windows of white hen

you made that mistake, scratched your initials in the paint
an unmarked crown victoria pulled up, full of white men

they grabbed your wrist & wouldn’t show you a badge
the manager clucked behind the counter, thick as a white hen

they told your friends to run home, but called the principal on you
& you learned Black sins cost much more than white ones

More Poems by Jamila Woods