We Who Die Before We Mourn
by A. J. Hayes
we hang her high,
death made visible
look upon her nakedness
look upon the blood oozing
we did this: we snuffed
life, and this power over us, from her
while she lived we buried her
under our boots
under our fists
under our guns
under our laws
under the earth
she was made invisible and mute,
a living doll for us to dump
into. we turned her divine vessel
into an unholy jeroboam
we feared the goddess within her,
sought to control and manipulate it,
believing our power would be amplified
by siphoning hers
we learned too late
that power isn’t concentrated
in who or what you own,
who you can subjugate
and beat into submission
life is power.
love is power.
first in oneself
then in others,
nurturing the true self is power.
by the time we realized this,
our path we had laid out
led to the rape and torture and murder of her
her power was an affront to ours,
wild only because we couldn’t control it;
it was hers. she would not allow us to possess it
or her soul, and so she had to be destroyed--
that is all we knew of power at the time.
we were wrong and won’t survive long enough to mourn.
Person. Storyteller. Work-in-progress. A. J. Hayes writes poetry, fiction and fantasy (as A. Jarrell Hayes), is a zine maker and writing workshop instructor. His work has appeared in MelaNation, The Baltimore Beat, The Northridge Review, Queer Indigenous Girl and Permission to Write. His writing & books can be found at and .