Junious Ward

Google Image Search: Boston Massacre
for Colin Kaepernick & Crispus Attucks & me

We tiptoe the line
of protesting and provoking,
don’t we? Suffer a kind
of death like a hero,
a martyr. Takes awhile

but searching my name
eventually shows the black
bleeding on the ground,
mulatto man with my face,
song whelming the mouth.

to my owner? I was
never a slave. Be careful
who you call uppity. I done
worked every job likely to kill

me. Some say I run
for a living but it ain’t that
simple. These men look
to take my job, livelihood,
I don’t know if I would go

as far as to say “patriot”
when the country I fight
for hides my face but
accepts the revolution
it sparks. America!

renames me nuisance
but everyone agrees I was there
at the dawn of it, the unlikely
woolen-afro framing my face
like freedom, falling

like my body needs to be
convinced it cannot stand
anymore. There I am! falling
to a knee, sputtering like a song
is stuffed in my mouth.



forever, a protest is a just a run

-on sentence written without hands or gods & never stems from the march turned waterfall of bodies pouring over a police car like wanton flame, notice—none of the news outlets refer to these folk as animals or thugs or degenerates & no one says the aftermath makes it hard to take their protest seriously ‘cause really they were just expressing themselves after their football team lost or their soccer team won or a statue came down & who even wrote the sentence (if we are speaking legalities) when elsewhere a man walking backwards is a threat, Ralph Ellison’s gun is a threat, every shroud that names us Exaggeration is the body cam footage finally released but only partial so Fox News quotes Rodney King instead of Martin Luther King: can’t we all just get along & maybe they don’t know what King actually said was a riot is the language of the unheard, ‘cause they were too busy not hearing it while the boy died or the girl was kicked or they both died twice; buried by stacks of resistant limbs ‘cause justice is irresistable—my question is if Trump says bad cops are human & make mistakes too & then a cop in the sky is quoted as saying the guy with his hands up looks like a bad dude & later a white supremacist is taken alive & to Burger King after killing everyone in the church—are we praying to heaven or feeding an idol, or maybe the question is how do we do this so it makes sense, stops when its supposed to, why do we have to break rules in the name of clarity just to be scolded for use of particular grammar—notice my hand is not in this, the ink keeps moving on its own, red & indelible, notice how tiring it can be (not seeing color), we see blood & you see black, we see protest & you see black words, we see poetics & you see ceaseless volleys that pain the ears but go unheard, become an exodus labeled beast, meaning it’s easier to focus on words than injustice, broken windows than oppression, meaning if it exposes you as the problem & you yelp & I misquote King, a hit dog will holler or I misquote God we will tire out if we don’t win the race for life, then & then & then & then I will stand on a street corner in my Sunday best screaming all the scarlet text at apathetic passersby: who wrote this poem but you, who but the zealot who scribes himself holy



Junious Ward is a poet living in Charlotte, NC. He is the author of Sing Me A Lesser Wound (Bull City Press). Junious has attended and/or received support from: Breadloaf Writers Conference, Callaloo, and The Watering Hole. His poems have appeared in Four Way Review, Crab Fat Magazine, and Lackadaisy Literary Magazine.