What the Woke Don’t See

Two Poems by Kenneth Chacon

Ride or Die; Or What the Woke Don’t See

It’s 4 o’clock in the evening 
when a young man 
decides to bust caps 
with a stolen semi-automatic 
while spinning donuts 
in a convertible in a church
parking lot on the Westside.

This man is the color of coffee, 
no cream, nostrils 
wide as bullet holes 
from a .45
& who gives a fuck 
if you think that sounds racist?

This isn’t about you.
This is about the man.
His beauty, not his potential,
but what he is now,
a star before the implosion, 
the fabric of Time/Space 
ready to tear like the veil 
in Solomon’s Temple. 

For 7 minutes, he graces 
the cathedral-angled 
streets of downtown 
in a high-speed chase, 
a throng of police cruisers 
straggling his Stang 
like a chain bound to an ankle. 

He’s got a white girl
riding shotgun beside him,
his baby’s mama, 
his ride or die, 
& who gives a fuck 
if you think that sounds racist?

Homegirl’s got platinum 
highlights & a single tassel 
of hair styled & pasted 
to the side of her face, 
squiggling like a rope 
falling from a neck. 

As the car speeds down 
Tuolumne, her hair catches 
the light just right
& it looks as if her head’s 
on fire, blazing 
like the golden disk of Apis.

Their 4 year old sits tied 
to a car seat in back, 
screaming in delight 
as daddy’s car growls 
through the avenues; 
this boy’s not scared at all
when his lovely mother 
turns to tell him, 
Don’t worry, T. 
Mommy & Daddy love you lots. 

This kid dreams 
of taking his mama’s 
yellow locks in his mouth, 
dreams the color of saffron, 
dreams the color of a Pee Chee 
folder & who gives a fuck 
if you think that sounds racist?

This boy loves his daddy, 
the way his sparse stache 
tickles his cheek, the smooth 
excellence of his oh-so-bald 
head, the way he returns home 
late at night like Santa 
bearing gifts: French fries, 
used video games, toys & sneakers 
still in the box, & wads 
of 10s & 20s & 50s
cuz the block was popping 
& who gives a fuck
if you think that sounds racist?

Can you see the beauty?
The coarse stubble of beard, 
a mancha of gray near 
the corner of his mouth, 
a gold Jesus piece dangling 
from his neck like a gaudy price tag, 
the word Family
tatted on his forearm, 
in sharp strokes like scars from a whip.

Before shackle meets wrist 
& cops’ conquest complete,
look at this man; 
not for the headlines,
not for your agendas.
Can you see? He’s free. 
Finally, free. 

Free from the call of the streets. 
Free from the overdue gas & electric bill. 
Free from making bricks 
with no straw. 
Free like the statue promises.

Look now 
because he may die today, 
before you can blink, 
before he’s 30. 
He may kill or be killed 
before the sun falls 
like a guillotine.

Take it in now, 
while you still can,
a hood star 
just about to implode
under the gravity of the universe,
a black hole perfect
in its gravitational pull
& who gives a fuck
if you think that sounds racist?

See this man 
the way the airbrushed T- shirts 
will depict him at the funeral,
the way his son will spray paint 
his name on the walls
in the neighborhood:

Thug Immortal
True O.G.

A raised fist &
a harbinger of rage,
yet another martyr in the coming



They call him Nigger 
cuz he don’t speak
a word
of Spanish, not even
the hoodspeak
that Dreamer
can muster with his 3rd 
generation accent.
You see,
his tongue refuses
to roll with the varrio
or curl for words
like ranfla órale carnal.
But what he can say,
like a bell you wait for,
is nigga.

At first, the homeboys
made fun cuz
he talked like that,
a West Coast rapper,
Tupac & Cube,
when he came fresh
from Inglewood
where the streets
run red
with the bandanas
of Black P. Stones
& where his mother,
high on crack
like you might guess,
beat the hell out
of him & left him
in a closet for good
one day.

When he moved
to Fresno,
where the streets
also run red,
Bulldog red,
looked past the half-
braided cornrows,
the pants sagging
below his knees,
& past the word nigga 
that registered
like an out-of-tune bell
at the end of every
(the antithesis of cholo-ness)
& thought,
This could be
my carnal, flesh
of my flesh.
So he had him jumped in.

& Armed
with his first real brothers,
Nigger joined the gang.
Cuz the homies
know best
what it’s like to wear
a name
that don’t quite


Kenneth Robert Chacón is a Sixth Son Xicano who was born and raised in the great state of Califas. Chacón spent much of his youth and some of his adult years involved in gangs and drugs. Now he works as a teacher, speaker, and sometimes poet. He loves his Creator, his country, & his familia. Consequently, he loves freedom, The Bill of Rights, and holds a special fondness for the 1st and 2nd Amendments. Author of the poetry collection The Cholo Who Said Nothing, 2017 Turning Point. More can be learned at

Categories: Fiction/Poetry

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