Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Poems that Resist Police Brutality & Demand Racial Justice - Post #6

We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest -  Poems that Resist Police Brutality & Demand Racial Justice

Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers' sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother's son -- we who believe in freedom cannot rest.
                    - Ella Baker

Even as our hearts break in rage and anguish over the murder of Black and brown people throughout the land by police who are not held accountable, here at Split This Rock we are heartened by the powerful actions in the streets and the visionary leadership of mostly young people of color in this growing movement for justice.

We are also moved by the poets, who continue to speak out, and especially by BlackPoetsSpeakOut.

In solidarity, Split This Rock offers our blog as a Virtual Open Mic, open to all who respond to our call for Poems that Resist Police Brutality and Demand Racial Justice. The poems below were submitted in response to that call.

Please note poems with complex formatting have been posted as jpegs, as this blog has a limited capacity for properly displaying these poems. We apologize if these poems are not accessible to you.

For more information or questions, feel free to email us at info@splitthisrock.org.

If you are moved by any of the poems below, please contact the Department of Justice and your local representatives to demand for police accountability. Visit Ferguson Action Demands for more information.


Money, Mississippi 1955
by Myra Sklarew

            Emmett's mother is a pretty-faced thing.
                                                Gwendolyn Brooks

Did the river cry to hold such a boy? Emmett's
hands at the bottom of the river. Emmett's mother
breathing at the top. Her tears. Is
the river swollen over its banks, holding a
nameless boy? A scot free killer, a pretty-face.
An innocent boy's whistle erased. A killed thing.


Why I Stopped Smoking
by Neil Silberblatt

Among the warnings on the side
of the pack or carton, next to the dire
but unheeded prophecies to you and your
unborn children, should be this
emblazoned with skull and crossbones.


If you sell these on a street
corner in Staten Island,and they are loose
and you are black,
there is a very real danger of your
being choked to death.
It really is a filthy habit.
Quit now.


She Said
by Nahshon Cook

every aspect of our lives
are controlled

Chinese people are like
a Mongolian lark

looking out the window
from behind the bars

of its bamboo cage
at a sparrow in the tree 


We protest 
by Persis M. Karim

in the thin, thinning
air of the internet
our fingers beat the outrage
where others beat their chests
the violence of one day
begets the violence of another
when does the reason of love
weigh in and balance the scales?


by Colleen J. McElroy

it practically leaves me speechless: this thing that happened in 1920 1930 1940
talking about this thing that happened in 1950 1980 1990 2001 2008 2011 2014

that's what I am talking about
       that's what I am talking about
                that is what I'm talking about
                          that is what I am talking about
                                       that is what I'm talking
                                             about - what I am talking
                                                             that is what I am
                                                                      talking I am
                                                                            about what


by D. H. Garrett

Who the fuck do we think we are?
I mean really
Why the fuck do we think our feelings
Somehow trump the need
Of people to go about
Their everyday fucked up lives
In a fucked up system?

Last thing they need is some
Spoken word jerk
Waking them up to the reality of the suffering
The inequality the violence
Shit they know already
And are trying to forget
Which is why they ignore
Us poets and our pumped up
Puffed up posturing declamations
Which is why they ignore
The death of beauty
The death of nature
The death of this or that
Unarmed black man
The death of democracy
The death of all that is good
And the raising up to the highest pinnacle
Of the Richest fucking the poorest
While their most recently purchased
Supermodel looks on with a
Smile on her face and little else

Jesus people don't need to feel more
They need to feel less
People don't need to know more
They need to know less
Which is why I am horrified
Of those little spaces tucked away here and there
Not yet blessed by a corporate logo
For if truth be told
What can't be bought and sold
Ain't worth a poet's piss
And we all know what that's worth
I shake it out here for all to see

Poets get real
Lose those feelings
Embrace the great
Zombie apocalypse
The Company needs
A few good copywriters
Needs a clever slogan or two
To really get us to finally completely stop


Ferguson Verdict
by Chandramohan S

The still born corpse of Justice
Drifts away from the inland of being guilty
To the coast of whether probable cause
Exists to indict the silver stars on the
Red bullets.

A fetus of justice
Rescued from the womb of prejudice,
Seriously wounded
After the cops trampled on us midst our eviction
Dies days later in the court house.

When the entropy of the writings on the wall
Exceeds the contours of prejudice
It spills on to the streets
Torching vans and barricades
Scripting an uneasy calm
In the language of the unheard.


"I know I did my job right."
by Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr. 

Former Officer Darren Wilson
Ferguson, Missouri, Police Force

18-year-old Michael Brown, black,
Saturday, October 13, 2014,
two days from starting college-- --
victim of police culture

reportedly melee of gun struggle    grappling inside cruiser--
four rounds penetrate right arm,
out of vehicle, hands briefly raised--more bullets--Brown hit frontally,
dozen altogether, one entering top of skull,
suggests his head bent forward, enabling apparent fatal strike

Concernless for body of a mother's, of a father's son,
dead teen left lying four hours in August sun, face down on street.
In the old south lynched corpses left hanging days, weeks.
Policeman shrouds corpse with white sheet,
from underneath, blood oozes.
No ambulance, no medical help
Grand Jury    no indictment

"...Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago."

Barack Obama
President of the United States
July 19, 2013

America for African-Americans:
shopping in department store   followed,
crossing street   hear locking click of car doors,
stepping into elevator   purses clutched

For Trayvon Martin, 17-year-old high schooler,
February 26, 2012
visiting father's fiancée, future stepmother,
in Floridian Twin Lakes gated community.
Evening, convenience store for Skittles, iced tea

"Hoodie" sweatshirt,
alone for walk-back in rain
except this car, driver stalking,
neighborhood watch coordinator on cell phone
with Sanford police   profiling

"...there's a real suspicious guy...just walking about...,"
"This guy looks like he's up to no good, on drugs or something."
Ordered not to exit car, he does, altercation

For this black teenager
death by Kel-Tee PF-9 9mm pistol

For this shooter
trial   acquittal--again can possess gun

Staten Island, New York, July 17, 2014
Six police wrestle down black man, Eric Garner,
350 pounds,
unaware of heart problems, asthma.
Father of six, grandfather of two,
suspected selling illegal "loosies," cigarettes.
Summer loose white shirt
screamingly visible under police hands,
stomach ground-pressed, lethal under heavy blue-uniformed bodies,
his chest compressed,
"I can't breathe, I can't breath"   eleven times
officer's thick arm thrown around his neck   chokehold!

Cleveland, Ohio, Saturday, November 23, 2014.
Saturday we think of as a boy's day,
his playground day, impromptu baseball, football,
boisterous tag, bring a favorite toy,
12-year-old Tamir Rice, his pellet gun,
points at others, to him innocent, boyish fun --
reason for hone warming, "man with gun at park--
probably fake."

Tamir sees patrol car speed to halt by shelter,
two blue uniformed men leap out,
one a 15-year veteran,
other ruled incompetent by previous department,
seconds he points gun--police tradition-
ten feet   the rookie shoots,
lightning pain in boy's intestines,
hospital Sunday following, boy having fun on the playground    dead.

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