Chaun Ballard

(More) Alternate Names for Black Boys

                                                 —after Danez Smith


                                                  Munro Galloway

                                                 Munro Galloway

18.   werewolves in daylight

19.   embers without wings

20.   orwellian sonnets

21.   bones of obsidian & flint

22.   aim & fire’s love child

23.   rorschach ink blot

24.   bulletproof—

25.   no proof—

26.   poof!—he gone

27.   ashes to dust

28.   white sheets & closed curtains

29.   abracadaver

30.   abrakaboom!


32.   forgotten

And It Came to Pass


when they were in the field,

that Cain rose up against Abel

his brother

and killed him,

Pac, Biggie, Jam Master Jay,

Don-Don, Peezy, and Koppel


over John Madden

over who shotcha?

over a mistaken identity

over a few puffs of weed


over you snitchin’?

over you got beef?

over you O.G. Bobby Johnson?


over Blue Magic  

over a li’l taste

over another Quaalude,

she gonna love me again


over so an’ so said— 

over so an’ so said whaaaaat?

over daaaaaamn, homie,

you gon’ let that ride?


over Levar fucked yo’ bitch, nigga


over bitch, dat’s my nigga                                                         

over who you callin’ bitch?

over dat ain’t yo’ nigga

if he was yo’ nigga

he wouldna been wit’ me las’ night


over where you from, cuz?

over I ain’t neva been yo’ cousin, homie


over a fresh pair of kicks

over a clownin’ new fit

over my grandmamma gave me that chain


over shake ’em up

over blow on the dice

over snap yo’ fingas and grunt—

ahhhhhh, niggaaaa, you crapped out!


over gimme dat dub

over oh, so you D-Boe now?

over throw them dogs then, foo’

over he ain’t gon’ do shit


over pull yo’ strap on me—betta kill me

over they shot Ricky

over we gon’ ride down on that bustah, Willie Manchester?


over                                       somebody’s gotta die—

                                              if I go you gotta go

                                              somebody’s gotta die

                                              let the gunshots blow

                                              somebody’s gotta die

                                              nobody gotta know

                                              that I killed yo’ ass in the mist,



over where is Abel your brother?

over am I my brother’s keeper?


Poet and photographer Chaun Ballard was raised in both St. Louis, Missouri, and San Bernardino, California. For seven years now, he and his wife have been teaching in the Middle East and West Africa. He is currently a graduate student in the University of Alaska, Anchorage’s MFA Program. He’s had poems recently accepted by Columbia Poetry Review, HEArt Online, International Poetry ReviewOff the Coast, Orbis: Quarterly International Literary Journal, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Rattle, The Caribbean Writer, and other literary magazines. His photos can be seen in the latest issues of Gravel, HEArt Online, Off the Coast, and The Silk Road Review.