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Spring/Summer 2018

We Who Die Before We Mourn

by A. J. Hayes

we hang her high,

        crucify her

death made visible

         look upon her nakedness

         look upon the blood oozing

         from her

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

our pleasure

                         our pain

                                           our lust

                                                            our anger

                                                                            our seed


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.

birthing joy


                                  first in oneself

                                  then in others,

                                                           is power.

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

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