Rigorous
Volume Three, Issue 2



Jerrice J. Baptiste


Twig

Twig has the thinnest body among girls. She hops over the fence at school to meet the boys next door. She spits farther than them standing on the brick wall of their playground.

Girls whisper about how she glanced over their papers for answers. Twig chews pink bubble gum and pops them in the girl’s ear closest to her. Bubble gum is caught in Peggy’s hair. Twig is locked in Sister Gertrude’s office. Instead of reflecting on her sin, she sneaks out of a window and leaves it open to announce her escape.

Each day, she twirls strands of her unkempt wiry brown dreads. It spirals from her temple to her shoulders. Twig wears blue jeans under her pink uniform. All the girls protest. On a Friday, Twig’s classmates wore blue jeans. They were punished with chores and had to recite prayers for forgiveness of their sins. Twig laughed.




Black Constitution

Papa read them all
ancient symbols on
cave walls
his fingers traced red
faces of our ancestors
they lie stiff in tombs
cloth veils their fragile bones
fractured skulls
can’t recall.

Papa knew my generation
afraid to taste salt on faces
of slaves, preoccupied with
lush soccer fields for babies
brand names on clothes
replaces Egyptian queen taming
lions at her feet, they rested
near flames and hot stones.

When you think I’m illiterate
no knowledge of the intricacies of your Iphone
my taste buds blister with your mocha latte
womb not birthing the virtual truck book
my papa taught me how to print
the constitution in black ink
on stark white page
saving lives with eloquence
carved on my walls.


Jerrice J. Baptiste: "I am a poet and author of eight books. My writing is forthcoming or has appeared in The Yale Review; Kosmos Journal; Autism Parenting Magazine; Breathe Free Press; Spadina Literary Review; So Spoke the Earth: Anthology of Women Writers of Haitian Descent; African Voices, and many others. My poetry and collaborative song writing appears on the Grammy Award winning album Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti. I teach creative writing workshops where I live in New York."




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