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C. J. Peete, Magnolia 2004

Bless the children who are compared to the white ones. Praise the project bricks and the men inside selling white ones. I know Rodney wanted to be a chemist, but they said fuck that and didn’t let him graduate. Bless our rivals in the “Cali-E-O,” the unloved children inside its walls and Calliope for allowing us to butcher her name. Bless every accent that flies out of a child’s mouth. God bless the child that’s got his own.

Bless every child whose favorite flavor is “red” and pays 25 cents for the crimson ice that stains the tongue. The syrup oozes down the lips of a toddler who has just learned to curse. We make the Magnolia bloom. A church is a church but it’s not a church unless the people is in it. We are midnight children inside its walls, the black ink they cannot wipe away. Bless the children raising their mothers’ children and every child who has felt the bite of a belt. Praise the child who does not cry when getting beat in front of their friends: See you have the courage to get cocky. It won’t go through, baby. It won’t happen! I don’t know of any dumpster in the Magnolia that hasn’t been turned into a casket. Do you know how many bodies have been thrown away?


Karisma Price was born and raised in New Orleans, LA and is currently a senior at Columbia University majoring in Creative Writing. Karisma aspires to use performance poetry as a platform to educate on race and inequality. She’s made Barack Obama smile.


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