Cyree Jarelle Johnson, Philadelphia
who built the white house?
who tilled the soil?
who worked the land?
who fed your babies milk stolen from her own, out of wide, chapped nipples?
who passed babies through another’s clean alabaster legs?
who left her own babies on the side of the scorching field,
face draped in a rag
shielding them with hope or detachment or both?
who watched the sun set again and again on their shackles?
who built the ships that held us?
who steered them as we churned inside their bellies?
who met us at the port with grease for our faces and coins to buy us,
the ship a matchbox bobbing in the vast Atlantic?
who’s arm threw us overboard and who filed an insurance claim with the same arm?
who donned capes and hoods as spooks to scare us?
who firebombed our homes?
who collects on our underwater mortgages?
who chased us to the fragile city to preserve their living space?
who exploited us in the factories?
who fires us for no reason?
who hangs us up by the neck until we bloat?
who steals our children for another and another ungodly war?
who shoots but does not know why but shoots all the same?
who will never be tried for his crimes?
who decides what is a crime?
who decides black murder is never a crime?
I too still out here singin america
i, forgotten, long lost sibling
black sheep but still black
and after all, in exile.
america still got cracks and faults in it
i still sit in the kitchen when company comes
and i will never be beautiful, they did not see.
those who chained you will continue to chain me,
an unbroken line back over the ocean.
my mind jumps back to the pit where they threw us.
my mind jumps back to the ocean that could have swallowed
us whole. 50 million, maybe more gone to history
living as uncategorized entries in an archives
buried to history, stolen away.