Subscriber Poems for Black Lives Matter
Winning Writers launched this feature in June 2020 in response to police brutality against black Americans. Below is a selection of subscriber poems inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.
COME BACK HOME! (Letter to a Moving Target)
by Mike Guinn
This life is nothing but Saturday night autopsies, pre-ordered grave stones, a freedom you'll never know. It's hoping the Negro National Anthem justifies your skin just enough for you to realize that tattoos and K2 will never replace the scar tissue on your soul.
Your heritage is more than rope burns around history's black neck. It’s a deep desire for survival no matter how loudly homicide speaks of rivers.
This melanin is so rich that when this nation denies you your color, it will be impossible to feel safe in this house arrest called America.
And even after you've given this country all of your Africa and your life light goes dim because the sun refused you immunity. You'll realize that our fragile lives began on the back porch of shotgun houses, where camouflaged chalk lines silhouette themselves in the shade of a lonely bulls-eye searching for another black target and you already fit the profile!
And it's not your fault that you were born a verb in past tense, an unwilling subject in a sentence that kept on running.
This curse, this prison we call life is like playing peekaboo with Satan. And I'lI be that gospel stripper, quoting scripture, god's reluctant theologian. Because here you are, fractured by the manner in which the wind whistled and Emmett-Tilled your future.
Boy my love is rugged remnants of pain polished smooth by trial and error. It knows your heart like skeletons know crowded closets.
These streets will eat and rip and tear you apart SON!
They are as relentless as hurricanes and as unforgiving as white privilege. And I am dying inside the way this life intended, but not you!
You will not be blood stains on sidewalks or a redundancy of clichés rewinding themselves into tornadoes of fully refurbished lies.
You will not sag or smoke or walk around here entitled with the audacity to hold up clean hands like this world owes you something.
Because it don't.
Listen...I don't want your existence to be another statistic on the back page of history.
This life needs to know that if you died, at least you stood for something far more substantial than a bag of weed or pride.
There are good things to come son. But you have to be here to see em.
So do me a favor, lose the attitude, put down your ego, pull up yo pants and remember this!
That whether it be cop or stranger Just SHUT YO MOUTH. SMILE! STAY ALIVE...and Bring Yo Ass Home!
Cause these streets don't give a damn about young black men.
Reprinted by permission from Crying in Colors (Jazzy Kitty Publishing, 2010) by spoken-word poet and motivational speaker Mike Guinn.
I Can't Breathe!
by Yassin Senge
(in loving memory of George Floyd)
Blood from my father
And milk from my mother
We're both used to make
For the hypocrite
Claiming that an ox was not productive
And the cow not reproductive
That their manure
Was not pure
That crops could not grow
Then I as a calf
Was not strong enough
To stop the hypocrite
From taking me for meat.
Yassin Senge is a Tanzanian poet whose work has appeared as a contest winner in the League of Poets' anthology Songs of Peace: The World's Biggest Anthology of Contemporary Poetry 2020.
Make America Love Again
by Mike Quinn
America is back on their civil rights home run
In the land of the brave and the home of the gun
Where a black man is not let catch his breath
We mourn his murder and his unlawful death
The President's dark heart amplified their pain
He's singularly Made America Hate Again
So it's a crime now if your live's black
Will they ever get America's "free" soul back?
George Floyd's "ambulance was his hearse"
While Uncle Sam hosts this Covid curse
The flames of hate are burning brightly now
This matter should Make America Think Again somehow?
Until they bend their collective knee of shame
Can this too begin to Make America Love Again
Mike writes: "I am an Irish person deeply touched by George Floyd's cruel murder and also the deeper Viruses of Hate in America."
by Mary Brooks
I was brought here many years ago from a distant land, deep in the bowels of a hellbound ship to this unknown land we sailed.
I raised my head to heaven and planted a seed in my heart, then put the rest in a treasure chest where in heaven it might prevail.
Sold on the block like an antique clock whose chimes they dared to sound, then I saw hope die and rise again with thorns upon his crown.
So the antique clock from the auction block could stay its chimes no more and it told of strife and the loss of life on this foreign shore.
I still see God's face in this far off place and his promise still rings true, when darkest night falls down on me Lord I'll remember you.
The Human Family
by Alisha Rodrigues
The color of one's skin
does not define the person.
We are all human
come from the same source.
Therefore we are all interconnected.
We are a human family
brothers and sisters.
Alisha is the Vice President of Artists Embassy International, which sponsors the Dancing Poetry Contest.
Civil Rights and Its Role With the Military
by Denise Jones
As an African American retired U.S. Army soldier,
I would like to point out civil rights and its role with the military.
The President and Commander-In-Chief involved
Had the last name Truman and the first name Harry.
The military's integration in the 1950s
Was based on Truman's mandate.
It made it unlawful for the military
To continue to segregate.
Military personnel like the Tuskegee Airmen
Could finally join General MacArthur's ranks.
So to Commander-In-Chief Truman,
I give thanks.
Truman's mandate also opened the door in the 1960s
Where President Lyndon B. Johnson signed various legislation.
This would include the Civil Rights Act of 1964
And the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to prohibit discrimination.
Jones writes: "I am an aspiring black poet who would like to share an unpublished poem in the midst of a grieving and outraged country where black people are still, to this day, victims of systemic racism. In the way that things have been unfolding in recent days, this is definitely a watershed moment for civil rights right now. This poem is to show that there is still hope for black people in the United States."
Categories: Featured Poems from Our Subscribers