principles

after JFK

 

i.

 

ask not what your country can do for you

ask if your country is your country

ask if your country belongs to your country folk

ask if your country is addicted to blood

ask if your country is addicted to forgetting

ask if your country is an oil & power fiend

ask if your country shakes at night starving

for bodies if bodies mean your country

keeps on being your country in the same ol’ ways

ask if your country was built of stolen land

and stolen breath, if democracy is a chain

tight as skin around your neck

ask if your comfort means elsewhere

someone is burying a daughter

ask if your comfort means round

the corner a man is dead cause a cop

mistook his body for a gun

ask if your comfort means broke schools

& food deserts on the other side of town

ask if your new apartment used to belong

to someone who couldn’t afford to look

like you, ask yourself if all the things

you are scared to admit are shovels

slowly filling up a brown boy’s throat.

 

ii.

 

all lives don’t matter

the same as all lives

 

some lives matter

only to themselves

 

some lives matter

only they hood

 

some lives matter

of fact & some lives

up for debate

 

all lives matter

to someone

 

but what about

this life of mine?

 

honey colored

& black as it is?

 

what my life mean to you?

am i talking to you?

do you wish me justice

or do you wish I would just

shut up already, vanish already?

 

iii.

 

Diamond Reynolds is a hero

where no one should have to be a hero

 

steady as she can be with daughter

in the back seat and Philando

slowly becoming a memory

right next to her, gun still pointed

at his body, cop outside the window

scared of a man he already

turned into a myth. thinks him

zombie when he already

imagined him ghost.

 

Diamond be diamond strong

in a world treat our people

like bad water. Diamond

unbreakable but why they

test her like that? why they

send bullets through our

bodies like they trying

to see if we real or just

a bad dream? why they

nightmare us into beast?

why they comfort the cops

and not the families?

why administrative leave?

why they look up the record

before they check the pulse?

why they try to spin the story

before they call the ambulance?

why they more worried about

getting caught then they worried

about the killing? why they

protect and serve themselves

from us? why they want us to

apologize for being

in the way of they bullets?

what good is police?

what is the American dream

to a brown person

except a dream of America

leaving us alone?

 

iv.

 

i don’t want America no more.

i want to be a citizen of something new.

i want a country for the immigrant hero.

i want a country where joy is indigenous

as the people.

i want a country that keeps its word.

i want to not be scared to drink the water.

i want a country that don’t bomb other countries.

i want a country that don’t treat a it’s people

like a virus. i want a country not trying

to cure itself of me. i want a country

that treats my mama right. i want a land

where my sister can be free. i want a country

that don’t look at me and my man & think

about where and how we should burn.
I want a nation under a kinder god.
I want justice the verb not justice the dream.

i want what was promised to me.
i want 40 acres and a vote that matters.

i want no prisons and a mule.

i want all lives to matter.

i want to be over with race

but race ain’t over me.

i want peace. i want equity. i want guns

to be melted into a masque, a church

a place for us to pray

and i wanna stop praying for my country

to be mine, for it to put the gun down

to take the bomb back.

v.

 

hope is hard but i have it

i look at students hands

& imagine all that they will mother.

Christ, oh name i was raised to pray to.

oh Allah, sweet lord of my father.

oh all you gods of my homies and gods

of strangers, work together

to build us into tools to build

anything other world but this.

make us so that we may make us

a world we can be grateful for

not grateful in spite of

 

let us not be idol or stunned by fear

let us not be so comfortable that we

ignore another’s grieving instead

of ending what makes her grieve

 

let us not be scared of the work because

it’s hard

let us move the mountain

because the mountain must move

 

let us, oh lords above us and within

let us be useful to our neighbors

& tender their wounds

let us be more bandage than blade

unless the blade is needed

 

let us be a sword against what does not

bring us closer to home

 

let us be dangerous to that which fails us

 

and bring us a world good to us, all of us

all us all us

amen