Jae Nichelle

Maybe: God

the existence of bad words implies good ones. you believe
saying yes is good even when you don’t want to. if there are
bad girls who curse and spit and sit like men then there are
good girls who don’t. you wonder if girls and words are ever
just those things without dichotomy. you spend a lot of time
closed—your legs and your lips—trying out goodness. god,
like any parent, will be very nice to you until displeased, you
learn. you say yes, you don’t have much space to take up
anyway. it is before the iPhone and you only have 200 texts a
month to use sparingly. you make each one count so as not to
spark a back and forth you’d have to pay for. never I feel only
yes okay sorry. all arguments cost you something. plus, you
learn, anyone bigger than you can tell you what to do. a boy
bigger than you says be a good girl, don’t say a word. you
reassess—there are no good words. girls are good when
silent and open at the command of someone bigger. god is
good, see how god is silent? you should be smaller than
everyone. parents, like any god, speak in parables. bad girls
end up dead or on the streets.
they do not mention who killed
them, who closed their doors. your phone bill comes, rewards
your lack of questions. your parents call. you are scared to
pick up.                                                                                                     


a good listener is just a bad conversationalist. so my
arguments with god are one-sided long paragraphs to which I
see read at [day/time]. I am proud to admit I speak enough to
have my phone determine my frequently used words. so by
now I can use predictive text to pray—



Sanctity: An Exposé

           Historically1, divorce rates have increased.2 Thesis: like gym membership, marriage be seeming like a good idea at the time. Then after a while you look at it and go—ehhh. They look at me expectantly and say we are ending.3 I am wearing cargo pants and a tank top4 sitting on the edge of my puffy comforter. I wonder what this means in terms of dinner. This time I have nothing to say,5 though I have been through more devastating things.6 My father’s eyes are begging.7 I refuse, trying to look busy, I scan the app store for another virtual pet.8

1 as of yesterday
2 there’s one more divorce in this family
3 marriage
4 a phase, unlike the girlfriend
5 who would
6 in my lifetime, after the end of Webkinz
7 give me something
8 to hold on to


Jae Nichelle’s work has been featured in Vinyl Poetry and Prose, Muzzle Magazine, The Offing, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. She was a 2020 Watering Hole fellow, and her chapbook, The Porch (As Sanctuary), is available from YesYes Books. Find her work on her website jaenichelle.com.