WARNING: poem contains mentions of death, violence, and blood that may be upsetting to viewers

(This is a poem about two girls, Takiya and Kenari, ages 11 and 13. Takiya waited for her family in the car one Saturday night on Chicago's South Side, when she was shot during a gang related shootout. Just 30 minutes later, Kenari, who was playing a game of basketball just blocks away, was also shot and killed. I wrote this poem for these two girls whose lives were tragically cut short because of our country's gun problem, as well as our race and crime one. Their stories demand justice and attention. May they rest in power.)


Takiya Takiya Takiya Takiya
Her mother screams

She is scrolling through snapchat on South King Drive
Breathing in February, peaks of spring under all the frigid
Rife with blood rife with ash
Not yet hers, not yet theirs

Takiya Takiya Takiya Takiya
Her mother shakes
Sitting in the family van
On seats so soft you’d think they were made of feathers
In her neighborhood
They call it a garden but nothing new grows
Except the candles that gather in clusters
Around the poles and parks
The corners and cracks
Where someone became a new number
Memorialized in time
A new statistic
And now

Takiya Takiya Takiya Takiya
Her mother weeps

30 minutes
1 year in age
4 streets

Kenari was perfecting her jump shot
Flying through the silent night, arms outstretched
They called her little bird, swoosh
Ball into net
Blood of a broken wing
A broken heart

We throw gang signs like footballs
Innocently enough
But brain damage
And bullet holes
Are not our friends
They are not even our enemies
They are
Foolish enough into being tricked
Into thinking the world can be played like a game;
Who are our enemies

Who are we

Getting so caught up in the hands we forget the faces
The face of a girl playing basketball at dusk
The face of a girl waiting on seats of love,
Waiting for her life to begin
Look where they are
Look at their mothers and their brothers
Look very closely
And do not forget.

by Ruthie