Red, Black and Blue

I can’t sleep on the fourth of July.

Not when fireworks 

sound like cracked whips

and sparklers glisten 

like blood under a streetlamp.


Blue-eyed kids, smiling at the burning sky—

their brothers, flinching at warning shots.


America, land of the freed slaves, 

home of the blameless,

sweet land of limitations.

Where “free speech” is regulated 

and black lives are confiscated.


When “If tomorrow all the things were gone” 

becomes a warning and a prayer.

Where equality is subjective, 

and badges are supreme.


I can’t sleep on independence day

because freedom isn’t the American dream

It’s the American middle finger.

It's our pinky swear 

with their fingers crossed.


Where our mascot’s a scapegoat,

Lady Liberty is blindfolded,

and our flag is painted 

with the blood of the lives lost.


When will we sing a new song?

Must we cleanse this flag with our tears?

Must we fall asleep in the arms of our oppressors?


Or must we stay awake,

Walking the grief-ridden streets,

hand-in-hand with our allies,

Vigorously changing,

Educating and liberating,

Emancipating and illuminating?


I think we must.

Because if I fall asleep

I don’t know if I’ll wake up.

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This poem is about: 
My community
My country
Our world
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 


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