Poetry Festival will be held:

Saturday, April 27, 2024

2020 Winner


3129 pulled the trigger

The world stands still

His girlfriend is screaming and crying

She’s angry and wants to kill



He walked away without looking behind

Talked to his radio “we have a situation”

I’m frozen as a statue but begin to tear up without hesitation

When he was shot his body was left open

For me I remember everything . . . in slow motion

I memorized the officer’s face.

Long nose, pale skin and slanted eyes

But his badge number was most important


He shot him so quickly, to stop him . . . I didn’t have enough time


3 years later, my cousin is buried in the dirt . . . decaying and alone

It’s so quiet and empty without him at home

Auntie says because I saw what had happened, I’m scarred for life.

She’s probably right because I’m terrified to close my eyes

Afraid to walk outside

Afraid to look at a neighborhood officer and say hi

I can’t stand to look at his room door across the hall

Even when I open it, my thoughts will go crazy

I lose my balance, so I can’t stand tall


10-year-old black girl sees her cousin shot by a white man

By a cop

By someone who ran

When the gun made its shot

Imagine that, 3129

You damaged a 10-year-old’s black girl mind

You murdered her best friend, you damaged his lover

Is this a new trend

Maybe not because you didn’t have any charges

Nor did u break your cover


Sisters . . . heartbroken

His mother . . . mournful but no words spoken

His girlfriend won’t stop crying and refuses to move on

You took him away from his family, which is the strongest bond


3129 I hope you hear and this gets to you

Because forgiveness is something I will never do

Nor will I act in ignorance and come for you


Two years later. Now I’m 15

I still have nightmares of the horror I’d seen

My mom is struggling

My dad can hardly sleep

Thankfully my little brother is still care free

But Auntie still cries at night

When I look at her eyes, they no longer shine

Over the years I’ve realized the justice system is corrupt

Fred Hampton, Rekia Boyd, Tamir Rice, my cousin

The more I think about it, I slowly lose it

If I protest, I get shot

If I let things slide, I’ll have heated thoughts

So what do I do?

The only thing promised in life is death, right?

But I have too much ahead of me to die out of spite

So my cousin J can watch over me, and be proud of his baby girl.

I’ll make a difference. Change the world.


Chosaun Ridley

Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science

Grade: 8