American Sonnet For My Past And Future Assassin

p
o
e
m
s

It feels sadder when a black person says Nigga
Because it sounds like Nigger. It feels sadder
When a brother or sister says Nigga because
It sounds like Nigger. I have never heard either
Word in the mouth of my mother or father.
Once I had a lover who said neither word
Out loud. I used neither word for years.
It feels sadder to hear a nigga say Nigga when
It sounds like Nigger. Nothing saddens me more
Than nigger, one whose master has no Lord.
No word leaves me more graced by shame.
You will always be my nigga, I say to the mirror
Because it is a dark water the temperature
Of a blade, the yellow flower stalking a dream.

Terrance Hayes is the author of Lighthead, winner of the 2010 National Book Award.

You Might Also Enjoy

Gedney Gets the Girl

Keith White

Gedney Market felt like a new man. Even his walk was lighter, bouncier, more self-confident. As he strode down Lexington Avenue. . .

stories

from Aurora

Thomas Geoghegan

Chicago, 1989. A strike that has been going on for some time has finally collapsed. The union is facing ruination and the company. . .

stories

Baffler Newsletter

New email subscribers receive a digital copy of our current issue.

Further Reading

 October 10

After Sokal Squared, we who reside in the university might want to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

Heads Up: We recently updated our privacy policy to clarify how and why we collect personal data. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand this policy.