Root Work Journal - Convening in the Ark - Volume 1, Issue 1
My African American Stuck Dream
in an empty
20-years long quarantine:
slamming steel gates
metal plates bolted
straight across my face:
a living isolation the
color and shape of battle--
and dog kennel
some other kind of straitjacket
around my psyche
it does not squeeze
it leaves room to breathe
in that space I am free
if I resist
This poem I wrote to encourage those who have a safe place to shelter in place at and who are feeling a little stir-crazy at this time. I haven’t had ANY loving human contact in 20+ years while all along I have dealt with the sensory depravation and the chaos of daily prison life -- so I think those of you sheltering in place can hang in there :)
P.S. Let me just add, please, that I’m also living under a sentence of death in the most prolific of executing states in the U.S.A.
MOYO - SWAHILI for ‘HEART’
What of this moment? In this moment I feel white people losing their moral authority -- their moral high horse. I feel a shifting of the balance of the collective national moral composition.
The words that I write as a Black man sentenced to die as a teen in the American south feel, for once, weighted with truth. Gone is the ariness with which I’ve long felt when I uncertainly spoke words from my own Black mouth about my own Black experience. I know now I am an authority inside of and on the subject of Blackness in America. And this can no longer be gaslighted away from me.
When I open my Black mouth and give my voice to the world concerning this Black experience, as lived from the year 1981 til this year 2020, I know that I need only to say it as I know it. As my Black skin has felt it, witnessed it, breathed it, choked on it, been kicked and brutalized within it.
I no longer need a white prison psychologist coming to the door of this cell telling me the constant sweating and hallucinations are not being triggered by prolonged exposure to solitary confinement because I know.
I no longer need to discount my feelings through out my public school years on eastside of San Antonio because I know teachers and school staff targeted me.
I no longer need to wonder if or how the color of my skin had anything to do with my being charged with capital murder, because I know the truth when I look around me and see reflected to me faces like mine.
I no longer need to question if I’m human enough, or, remorseful enough for my shameful actions because I now know -- without a doubt -- that while I have been raked over the coals of this solitary fire, the people we look to for leadership and pay the bills of with our hard earned cash have been celebrating people in history who have mass raped, mass murdered and broken the dreams of lineages of people. I said lineages of people! Knowingly and intentionally. Grown men who I would think would have known better from how much the name of God was on their lips. These were not psychotic, addicted and bumbling 18 year old kids who never thought of killing someone.
I used to be hobbled with fear and insecurity -- and I always questioned my perceptions -- but with this movement for Black Lives coming on the heels of 20 years of reading, listening to the radio, and communicating with others also seeking answers within their solitary cells, I have finally found forgiveness for the 18 year old kid I was. Who has lived on within me waiting for this day. This day when I could say to him that I’m sorry. That you are okay and no longer -- not on my watch -- will you be treated as less than.