Poetry: The Race Issue

  • Graphic Chris Michaud

Self Control
Alexandre Vachon

Bullet boy, run from trouble.
Gun shot man, calling death,
Supreme conqueror of life.
Bullet boy bulleted down.
Nigga boy, trouble boy,
Red river flowing.
Popped head, whole holds
A hole load of bullet boy’s blood.
Dead nigga, run bullet boy.
Them niggas coming.

***

Listen to the Stories
Sarah Abou-Bakr

listen to people’s stories
out there, you’ll find tangled, complex ones
where quiet calm meets storm, and pouring rain meets sun
where exquisite rainbows are found inside of tornadoes
stories that breathe in pink but sometimes exhale grey-ish

listen to the stories
of people whose efforts never go unrequited
they’ll tell you how they wrote it
not with ink and feather
but with changing weather

listen to the stories.

***

“You deserve the world”
Sarah Abou-Bakr

I often hear people tell me “You deserve the world”

I don’t want your world,
for I have seen what it did to my sister in faith,
and my brother of color.

I don’t want your world.
I want to unbecome your imposed chaos.
It is a spiteful disease
that sickens my brain and hurts my heart.

I don’t want your world.
I chose to be my own light,
the one brightened by the stories of my ancestors,
my honey, and my melanin.

I don’t want your word.
For I already have my own.
The one I truly deserve.

And please, don’t try to liberate me.
Don’t you know I am already free?

***
Kaysari Aleppo
Meghri A. Bakarian

Can you remember?
How should I forget ..
Should I forget my neighbours? My auntie “em George” or “em Mohammad”?
Or should I forget my first love?
How come?
What can I tell you brother..it’s too complicated…
War and love stories..
Sheshh…shut up!
But I don’t want to..
I want to speak out and express myself..
So that you can hear me and you can hear my people’s noise..
Forget about it! Forget…
Why..do you think that I had forgotten in the first place that you are asking me to forget now?
Hear me out..my name is Meghri.

Yes, Madame, it’s M-E-G-H-R-I!
An Armenian Syrian woman, who will speak 1915 ; who will live the Allepean nights
Till the last day of her life.

***

On Slav Songs
Kathleen Charles

African slave songs were passed down to me through deep waters
Just to reach the blood in my veins
And I stand here today
Free and unchained
Just like their wildest dreams told them I would be
Can you not accept that some stories are not yours to tell?
Not all stories are yours to tell
Not all songs are yours to use
Recreate and dismember as you choose
Don’t take away my chance to represent the women who fought for me
Because Slavs never sang our African slave songs
Don’t tell me that you don’t see color
Because the world still colors me black even though I know I’m more than that
My great great grandmother held me in her bosom before I was even formed. She knew the pain I would have to face one day
So, she did all she could do. She used her voice, the only thing she could use
To sing me a song.
A song that seeped deep into her body, split cracks through her bones.
It sank and settled deep inside. It crossed time and space to reach me
She sang me a song.
A promise that she’d always be there, like a faint call in the air to sing me her lessons of despair
Softly braiding, sneaking lullabies of wisdom into my hair.
Whispering “Don’t you cry for me child” because she’d never leave me lonely. That I would always have her song in my heart to soothe me
She sang me a song
So that I could keep it safe for her in the new world she believed would come.
Refused to let them beat it out of her
Even though they tried … to beat it out of her till she was numb
She sang me a song
That crossed hills, valleys and unknown countries and nestled it deep into the safe soil of her body
She sang me a song
And now you…. you come along
And think it’s ok to reappropriate a sound so pure, so strong
But you can’t play theatre with our stories
My great great grandmother didn’t sing those songs in sugar cane; cotton fields and send them to me through generations for you to use them in a way that does not feature my voice
In a way that does not feature my body. The only instrument that can sing her song true
Because…
My grandmother looked like me and not like you
Harriet Tubman looked like me and not like you
I will not hold back my poetry as privilege is used to twist, turn, tell, retell this story
…our stories
That can only be carried by our bodies for it is through our bodies that they have been travelling through time for centuries

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