Two Selections by Latonya Pennington

Requiem for Karyn and Lee

One April,
a black blogger
named Karyn Washington
killed herself
because she thought
life was pain
and nothing else.
She helped brown skinned girls
love themselves
and be proud.
Karyn’s sunny smile
had hidden grey clouds.
Her laughter
may have tinkled
like wind chimes
or rang
like church bells
so no one could tell.
She needed to pretend
and maintain a façade
so the strength of Atlas
could come to her aid.
Yet, her story
is not the only song
that needs to be sung.
Let me tell you
about an actor named
Lee Thompson Young.
One August,
he was found dead
of a self-inflicted
bullet to the head.
Turns out,
he had bi-polar disorder.
This was a secret
that put his soul
in a mortar.
A masculine pestle
constantly pounds.
A man’s pain is crushed
so you can’t hear a sound.
Stereotypical lines
make us pretend
everything is fine.
We are not fine!
We are confined!
Trapped in media’s main stream
a rushing river of pipe dreams
that lead to an ocean
of commotion!
The mentally ill
while trying to swim.
no one notices
until the situation’s grim.
They are seen,
but not heard.
with skin tones
and words.
Mentally ill
equals white
and no color.
and nothing other.
Only in death
can they tell
their tales of strife.
Only in death
comes peace
lost in life.


America, We Have A Problem
we have a problem.
Black bodies are dying.
Bigotry is the cause.
Black people are angry.
Most people only pause.
I’m sick of being haunted
by the ghosts of those slain.
I’m sick of seeing bloody rivers
flow through my brain.
I’m also sick of
the unfair attention.
Black men remembered,
black women barely mentioned.
Don’t just say his name,
say her name too!
Aiyana Jones!
Say her name!
Darrien Hunt!
Say his name!
Mya Hall!
Say her name!
Trayvon Martin!
Say his name!
India Clarke!
Say her name!
These lives lost
are lives seen as a threat.
Three-fifths of a whole,
still not fully human yet.

If all lives matter,
then why are some worth less?
Why does crime pay
when the people protest?
There’s an old tall tree
growing new strange fruit.
Fear on the leaves,
bigotry at the roots.
we have a problem.
Are we ever going to solve it?

Latonya Pennington is a poet and freelance writer. Her poetry has been featured in Superselected magazine and Multiracial Media. She resides in the southern United States.