For my teacher, Minniejean Brown-Trickey


United States
37° 36' 36.6372" N, 122° 28' 50.4804" W
United States
35° 11' 27.9312" N, 97° 23' 52.3716" W

We shall overcome....
We shall overcome....

Little Rock Arkansas, 1957
Nine black children go to school
met with white mobs of thousands they stand surrounded but strong
even behind classroom doors where they are spit on
glass smashed at their feet for them to walk in
hot towels thrashing their skin
but scalding water in the locker room cannot burn off their dignity
and spit takes a while to sink into skin
the bricks and beatings
whites curbstomping black skulls in the street
are no match for stubborn feet
For faces that do not flinch
dry eyes that look only to the future
they overcame American Terrorism causehaving dignity is resistance

August 28, 1955 Emmitt Till
My blood aches for you like curdling milk
two white men went free
no guilt in the crevices of their skin after they beat him to a severe pulp
right eye knocked out,
dropped into a river,
barbed wire tying 75 pounds of a cotton gin fan around his14 year old neck
two white men went free
but in protest Rosa Parks didn't give up her seat

Birmingham Alabama 1963
air vibrates with the heat of
bombs going off in homes and churches of black members of society
16 sticks of dynamite and working adults still can't take to the streets
so children do
over 5,000 children march on Birmingham

Day 1
Meet at 16th street Baptist Church as soon as your teacher turns around
hop out windows and join the movement
the flow of a civil river
DJ playboy be playing the signaling songs
D-Day has begun

Reverend James Bevel stands as the masses pour in
calm as he explains to children
that it is time to go to jail for America
fill cells with songs of freedom and overcome shackles of racial bondage
kids walk 18 miles for a chance to go to jail
973 succeed

Day 2
Police and firemen
release attack dogs and fire hoses on children
as teeth sink into prepubescent skin four men hold a fire hose spraying full force
collapsing kids to the ground like jenga blocks
sliding them down cement sidewalks
but they continue to march
hands clasped
freedom in their fingerprints
as 1,922 children are taken to jail

Day 3
They wear their swimsuits
dance in the liquid hate that's shot at them
they have no fear
laughing as they are arrested, shoved together
30 kids per cell
1 bologna sandwich each
rats at their feet
they were in there 2 weeks and still singing
voices ringing
4 to 18 years old
they overcame

I am ashamed that I share skin tone with murderers
with the KKK
with the embodiment of racial hate
I feel the weight
of my forefathers through history
the mystery of so many murders
jail cells that should belong to whites
of bigots still fighting racial unity
of the fucked up ignorance my skin still entitles me to

..... sorry...?

Sorry is insufficient
the fluff in a danish sweet density of light
losing its substance as you bite towards the fruitfilled future
it's the illusion ensconcing the promise

Sorry is not enough

So I will drink the bittersweetness of history
the joyous sorrow of her broken microphone
I will lipread her songs
and sing them back onto white society
until it is our nature to hear beyond skin tones

But skittles fall to the sidewalk from Trayvon Martin's hands
and I can't catch them as they scatter
families shattered by bullets of concentrated racism

One hand can't catch them all
but many can
and my fingerprints will keep stretching for the someday
we, together


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