The Game | Ashley August

So I got on these shorts right
This stretchy lil’ pair that make me look extra black girl murderous
Numbered jersey on my back so they keep tally of who be ending these bitches so fast on the court
I am front row and alone
Yellow bus sit under me like the throne I rule on
Rusty rocketry ‘cross the freeway to the game
Girls in the back smacking rap with their parrot mouths
“I got 99 problems but a Bitch ain’t one!”
I’m like who feel bad for me son
All these white girls with Jay on their tongue
I can bet all my Pac vinyls on them only knowing the chorus
Wanna ask them about verse 3, bar 7
Watch their faces still to open jaw stone
Be stripped of it’s color, well the little they had anyway
See the blankitas drop their hood counterparts
and just be blank
Wanna ask them if they know they ain’t from the same broken land Jay talmbout, like I am

We speak gutter and they are only versed in gentrify
And coffee shop scone ,bike lanes, prospect park runs at dawn, Starbucks
And cheap rent
We know bodega coin coffee
Running from badges at dawn, being named suspect and piled pink slips as door stoppers

They continue
I let them live
I allow their breath to happen
Keep my distance from my so called “team”
Pantomime my hit, spike, and jump
They get louder
Dirty tongue tango closer to the forbidden
And I just wait on it cause I know it’s coming, blood burning in all my brown
And I hear
“Nigga!”

Everything goes silent in my world
I rise and pivot, three of them are on their knees, two sitting
All laughing in my direction
My face look like when they asked if they should order me fried chicken and something grape at our team dinner
Or that one time when they said I’m the only one who doesn’t have to worry about her hair going out of place during a game
Since it got all this refusal to move
Since it be stubborn like my people
Or the one time they asked me to go fetch their after practice underwear from the locker room floor,
‘Cause ya know, picking cotton was something I should’ve known well

And one more time
The one with the skin she convinced herself is more sacred than my black Jesus says
“NIG.GA”
And I hop up off my glorious throne
And charge for her with all my limbs flailing
Like a thousand slave ships wailed my name for saving
Coach holds me back
I
suddenly
look
like
animal
they
been
seen me as
Foaming at the mouth
Jaw ready for white meat
For chew apart and blood stained teeth

Homegirl’s face all of a sudden got restraining order on it
Oh, she scared now though
Let’s play a game called guess where the black girl hiding her box cutter
Whaddup
Throw yo hands
You wanna tickle ignorance
Well come bitch, lemme laugh for you

Like she aint know the trigger word
Like she ain’t know that word can bring Rosa from front row regal to back seat “Ima fuck yo shit
up!”
Like it was an accident
An “it was in the song so I said it coach”
White girls grip together like the only cloud in my dark kingdom
Coach hold me like black boy in cuff and ask me what the hell just happened
And I yell “My name !
They all
forgot my fucking name!”

————
Ashley August is an actress, playwright, activist, touring spoken word artist, multiple time Grand Slam Champ, hip-hop junkie, professional shower krumper and NYC’s 2013 Youth Poet Laureate. Along with multiple television/film appearances and country wide theatrical and poetic performances, her credits include SundanceTV, “Orange Is The New Black”, The GAP, BET, and TVOne. In January of 2016, she began strutting her newest title as Slam Master of the Legendary Bowery Poetry Club. With Belize and Brooklyn embedded into her (he)art, August is motivated to speak the unsaid truth and push the boundaries of spoken word and theater to realms they’ve yet to live in.

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