Carnegie Mellon University

"Rest in Power"

Honorable Mention for High School Poetry

The following is a poem in the ghazal format, which is a series of couplets with the last word repeating and second-to-last word rhyming in both lines of the first couplet and the last second line of all the other couplets. In addition, the last couplet of the poem should contain the speaker’s name. It is written in first-person from the perspective of Cathalina Christina James, who was the eighteenth trans person to be murdered in the U.S. in 2018 and the third trans person in Jacksonville, Florida to be murdered within three months.

I came to Jacksonville, Florida with hope. They told me dream sister.
The world is here for you, but things aren’t as they seem, sister.
On Sunday, June 24, at 24 years old, I became the third black trans woman
murdered in Jacksonville within three months. It’s a recurring theme sister,
for trans people, trans people of color, trans women of color, to be killed,
quick and violent, no justice. The threat we face for existence is extreme sister,
and they will try to cover it up. At first, the police reports ignored the trans aspect
of my murder. I was misgendered, deadnamed, but my story hit mainstream sister.
I was the eighteenth trans murder in the US that year, but don’t let these deaths
be meaningless. When we see you riot for our lives, for your lives, we beam sister.
All our faces live on in the posterboards Rest in Power and Not Erased. The more you fight, the harder it is to erase us. Don’t let them break you, or take your esteem sister.
Never apologize for asking to feel safe in the world, never apologize for wanting a body you feel good in, never apologize for yourself. You are beautiful. You are supreme sister.
Thank you for each cry of Rest in Power Cathalina Christina James, and I say to you
Live in Power. If they try to beat you down, let them know who you are. Scream sister.

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