poem to the world

We Did It Our Way (6/14/2020)

For all those around the world
who have have been sickened and harmed by
America’s bigotry
America’s duplicity
America’s meddling
into your lives, your governments, your countries
this legacy of self-interest

“I don’t think there are any Russians
and there ain’t no Yanks
Just corporate criminals
Playin’ with tanks”
“The child of hatred comes of age…
The sad neglect will surely take its toll…
Violent times”(*)

For all those around the world
who have prayed
prayed in earnest and
prayed continually
“A plague upon America.”
“Death to America!”
or cried out “when will it end?”

God has heard you and
God has answered

I can tell you
with more coronavirus cases
and deaths
than any other country in the world
with social unrest
caused by a pandemic, racism, inconsistent values,
police brutality and failed leadership

I can tell you
that you may feel confident
you did not have to lift a finger
you did not need to attack us
God has heard your prayers
and like the tower of Babel
Our “language” has become confused

like the walls of Jericho
all you had to do was blow your horns
we have come crashing down
the modern Rome is falling
you did not have to lift a finger
you did not need to attack us
let the ruin be a lesson

We did it our way
We did it to ourselves

* 2nd stanza quotes taken from The Call’s eerily prescient album MODERN ROMANS (1983)

“I can’t breathe” (a poem)

“I CAN’T BREATHE!”

The long long night in America
violence, hatred & anger
200+ years overdue if you ask me
and not in the least surprising

“I can’t breathe,” “I can’t breathe!”
The fires of protest burn brightly
and the media focuses on the event
not the root that caused this burning bush to grow

Another black man dies
in police custody
“I can’t breathe,” “I can’t breathe!”
each word like bullets fired from a gun
verbal shots ring out
while 3 cops pin a black man down
one brutally kneeling on the neck
and a 4th stands by complicit

It isn’t enough to suppress the black and brown man
his black and blue soul suffering
under the weight of white oppression
and the poison goes to the very top Mr. President

racism given a badge
There is no honor here
It’s not courage that carries a gun and uses force
only a white coward dresses in blue
and cynically claims
“I’m only doing my job”
when they crush the life
out of a black man already subdued
“I can’t breathe,” “ I can’t breathe”

If we are surprised by the violence
we should be ashamed
If we are shocked by the brutality
we shouldn’t be

If we do nothing
We are complicit
“Please, please, please,
I can’t breathe, please man.”

And another black mans soul
ascends to heaven to early.
“Please, please, please,
I can’t breathe, please man.”

I wrote the above poem in reaction to the brutal killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the nationwide protests and violence that followed 5/31/2020. 

4 essential tracks for this time in America:
The Last Poets – HANDS OFF!


Gil Scott-Heron – HOME IS WHERE THE HATRED IS

The Last Poets – RAIN OF TERROR

War – SLIPPIN’ INTO DARKNESS

Bonus Track – From the film SLAM starring contemporary poet Saul Williams.