Posted in poetry, published, Uncategorized

The Language We Bury Them In

for Hannah Hamilton

You wrote of comfort, crawfish boils and Port Vincent – for your father
and the South and all of the things I’ve ever loved or never knew about.

I read more and I learned you: your voice, flat on a paper, but heaving
from aches, jerking from anticipation, and then rising with syllables

slapped together to represent something more full. When I found a way
to trade words with you over coffee and curry in South Mississippi,

a middle-ground place where neither of us held reputations more than
what we’d imagined, I knew you were more than a poet, more than

a culture-fed woman on her way; wild-eyed, you described yourself
a sleepy sheepdog and I’ve yet to understand why. In our first meeting,

instinctually, I suppose, we became locked in a stare-down, allowing
ourselves to learn each other’s breed: similar in the way we claw at truths

and how reliant we are on the packs we run in. Sitting with you that day,
across from your Iranian eyes and pure Louisiana rhetoric, I swear

I eyed your words while you spoke them, realizing they held breaths
of their own: graceful with grievances and with an air of atonement.

I can see now why you write them on your skin. Words deserve more
than the language we bury them in; they’ve earned the right to live.

But Hannah, no one wears declarations the way you do. Yours reach
across the table, grab my hands, and place in my palms maps to live by.

Previously published in Paper Swans’ Chronicles of Eve anthology / Spring 2016


Posted in poetry, published, Uncategorized


I do not need you
to pray for me.

I am a common woman,





by your kind:

those who point to me,
wanting to anoint me
with all things pure,
of my worth
until I feign their ways.

I am no follower
of fire and brimstone;


as your kind says of me:
I am too far gone.


Previously published in Bop Dead City – Issue 14; January 2016

Posted in poetry, Uncategorized

In the Videos

My nephew has his mother’s skin – he tans easily but is an honest color, the kind society does not question. I cannot imagine looking at him and seeing his innocence wrapped in a darker shade, knowing it could make him one of those kids you see in the videos. I exhaust myself being thankful, dreaming up adjectives which keep him safe. I exhaust myself feeling guilty for the same. I didn’t watch it, the latest video, where the white cop kills the black man because he exists on the white cop’s shift. I already know how it goes:

black man stands or moves / white cop hollers he’ll shoot / black man says, please, no / black man begs white cop not to shoot / white cop shoots / white cop shoots / white cop shoots / white cop shoots / media paints a victim / media has us choose / black men lose.

Posted in activism, poetry, published, Uncategorized

I’d Be Lying

if I said I wasn’t nervous. My sister, concerned:

I’m afraid Christians may hurt my son.
I’ve been up all night trying to decide if we should go

When I say Christian, I don’t mean Christian; I mean
those who say amen when it isn’t right.

Is it more important to be seen, to show ourselves in the light –
where darkness protrudes to swallow good? Should we cower,
allow those who holler hatred to mark us apathetic?

All this worry, all this fear, all to decide: is it safe to hold a candle
in the park to mourn people we know in a way only our empathy allows?

The argument: was it a Muslim or should we blame the gun?
I know that people are afraid – not so much of what they do not understand,
but that which they cannot control.

There are no Muslims in my town – little diversity at all.

I do not fear those who do not exist here. I fear those who do,
those who outnumber me and those who lean on falsehoods;
I fear their guns and their tempers,
their blind hatred and their snap reactions.

I know those who are victim to a misshapen faith do not understand
love as it is: without preconceptions.

I know those who fight for this generation’s musket do not know
they are the ammunition for the weapon they believe protects them,
the weapon used to kill their neighbors.

They do not know that with every belly-ache argument
to hold on to these guns they pull a trigger; someone dies.
They do not know intolerance is genocide.

They shout: sinner, abomination—
not knowing the heaviness of words, of slurs.They define: bleeding-heart liberal;
not knowing the truth of it.

They do not know this fear:
watching folks bleed to be remembered as human.This is:

a baseball game / a grocery store / a first date / a dog park / America / a marriage
ceremony / lunch with friends / an argument at work / the internet / a public restroom /
church / business as usual / a quick walk down the block / prom / Orlando / home /
where you want to be / a bar / a safe place / Pride Month / a dance floor / war / a funeral /

a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral /
a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral /
a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral /
a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral /
a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral /
a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral.


Published at Words Dance – June 20, 2016.

Posted in poetry, published

Exit Strategy

Three months is my average; rarely
do I last any longer playing the role

of lover. I’ve dared myself to resist
the urge to leave, but it goes against

my truths. When lust-minded hands
turn to watchful eyes, I try to decide

if it’s worth it to be wanted for more
than late hours. Lovers begin to see me

as someone to bring home, to occupy
their houses. I find the exits too easily.

Originally published in Issue 1 of Picaroon Poetry.

Posted in Book Release, fiction, poetry, published, Uncategorized

America Is Not the World – Release!

America Is Not the World – an international collection of poetry and short fiction from Pankhearst is now available via Amazon. You can purchase the collection here.

Other writers and editors have praised this anthology:

america book

SHINJINI BHATTACHARJEE, poet and Editor of Hermeneutic Chaos and Press:

The landscape of America Is Not the World enacts important historical and cultural intersections through a vivid mélange of symbolic and imagistic riches that are unsparingly true. The collection reconstructs our perception of America through poems and stories that fold maps and question binaries by narrating the lives of our complex, often troubled worlds that do not harbor easy answers. But, at the same time, it also offers the splendid possibility of a human culture that dissolves the glistening weight of its wounds together. This is an anthology that hums and crackles with a formidable urgency that is rare, intimate, poignant and necessary, assembling languages that our identities won’t reveal. Prepare to emerge from it transformed.

SADE ANDRIA ZABALA, columnist for Art-Parasites and author of WAR SONGS and Coffee and Cigarettes:

“Nothing feels like loss anymore,” says a powerful Pakistani poem by one of the many international writers in America Is Not The World. This book is raw, diverse, and impassioned, and comes at a time when the entire world needs it, even when many prefer to remain deaf to the truth. Pankhearst’s new collection is not another scream into the void – it is a wake-up call. Everyone ought to hear the alarm.

DONNA-MARIE RILEY, author of Love and Other Small Wars:

These are the voices we need – voices that break the monotony. This collection is wonderful and heart-wrenching in equal measure. Wonderful because these voices are so incredibly articulate and individual and necessary. Heart-wrenching because I am so sorry for the things they have to say. I am amazed and humbled by the tenderness of these poems. They throb while you’re reading them and echo long after you’ve finished. A collection that sings.

I’m so pleased to share this anthology with everyone. It’s been months and months of work and an endeavor that has humbled me both as a poet and an editor. The contributors of this anthology have shared brave and poignant work that deserves to be read.

This book will stir your empathy.

Please support this project:

Buy it. Loan it out. Give it away.
Talk about it. Review it. Share the news.