when Black people say “Imma pray for you,” that is the prayer

by Ashia Ajani



i cannot spare more magic, lest you take me for a mule.
Sapphire that I am, spinning gold from grain,
beholden to a spirit of my own protection,

i am a charlatan of boundless desire.
yes, my energy be that thick, be that heavy,
a potent protection against those who wish to distill

my invocations into a lustful praise. & take & take
& take until i am a sullen shell.
true, my magic is rarer than a passionfruit

swisher, is weighty, a divinity of longing swells
through my fingers. God bless this mess,
this brouhaha, this wild encounter of flesh and spirit.

long burdened by the rust of misuse,
i have my own charges to bear.
in the soot & ruin of [black girl magic],

herein lies the problem of my wanton flesh.
those who only see us as clusters of hurt,
a trickled-down resilience sought for seizure.

i banish and bruise. i hold grudges.
if that illustrates me evil, i accept the fire & the hell
of my own creation. always, i guard what is mine.

i cannot allow my body to be another
site of ruin from misplaced faith.
forgive me, there is nothing light to give.



Ashia Ajani (they/she) is a Black environmental educator and storyteller hailing from Denver, Colorado, Queen City of the Plains and the unceded territory of the Arapahoe, Ute, Cheyenne, and Comanche peoples. Their work has been featured in Sierra Magazine, Them.us, Frontier Poetry, and World Literature Today, among others. She is currently located in New Haven, Connecticut, where she is completing her master of environmental management at Yale School of the Environment. Per the underrated Stevie Wonder song, they hope to “come back as a flower” in the next life.

Back to Vol. VI: “Hunger”