As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Cantrice Janelle Penn—Poetry

razed here

there’s a letter on the door.


the trees whose arms

have sheltered us for years

must come down

in the name of



i peel back the curtain and watch

a team of built Black men

just following orders

taking too many serrated edges

to tree roots


another one falls


the crack and force                 of air               feels like

the earth



but i must be mistaken


that was just

my heart.


the gas station clerk does not understand

the hard lines around my english

when i ask him how to get back to

route 1 north.


i approach a blur


about how to get




her eyes squint, scanning

my face, frame

as a guttural smoker’s laugh

throws her head back, and

“see, you in the country, now”

spins off her tongue


and that night

as the sky lost its blue

i learned that


still begins

with the sound


black bodies


into the

quiet                palms of


Cantrice Janelle Penn is a writer, decolonial copy editor, linguist and artist. Her upbringing was shaped by forked tongues, lottery dream books, and the steady waters of the Powhatan River in the US South. A VONA/Voices Fellow, Cantrice is also the recipient of the 2016 Firefly Ridge Literary Magazine Women’s Writing Award. Her work will appear/has appeared in several publications, including Kweli, Cunjuh, The Fem, Black Girl Dangerous, Sally Hemings Dreams, and After Ferguson, In Solidarity (Mourning Glory Publishing, 2015). Her writing can also be found at

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This entry was posted on September 17, 2017 by .

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