My Crack in the Wall

By KC

Every day I awake in an open grave
And leave my slab to walk among the tombs

Massive monuments built to mark bad decisions and love lost
Life and freedom shattered by time being watched over by men with guns

I am not alone, for thousands walk with me
A nation of the undesirables left to rot above ground

Who like crabs hold each other back from reaching peace of mind
They thrive in the misery of their fellow man and thirst for dominance

They think the title King Crab is an honor
Don’t they see? King of the damned is still damned himself

I am different from most here
I walk in the land of the dead focused on life

Time is harsh, but my dreams have never decayed
Stepping stones made from ink on paper keep me on track

Words from loved ones lost, now found, tell me
I am human not an animal, and to never lose myself

Do or die among the dead until you get to the living
And never let the flame of life burn out, it connects us

So, I walk among the tombs every day
Looking for that crack in the wall, that slither of light

Today I’ve found her, and her name is…
Well that doesn’t matter

What matters in the end, today’s a good day
And my crack in the wall has just gotten a little bigger

My Beloved

By MH

They ask me what’s wrong with your beloved?
She looks sad, heartbroken, and in despair
Where is her smile you often praise?

I answered them my beloved is sick
She’s in pain, she has been for awhile
It pains me to see her this way

But I know she will heal
She will smile again
She will stand on her feet again

For I know my beloved
Hidden beneath all the chaos you see
Hopes, dreams, joy, and prosperity

Author’s note: This poem is about my home, which I miss and think of a lot, as well as my family, friends, and neighbors.  

Amongst the Broken Men

By CB

I’m living in a world where you’re called
By numbers and not your name
On lockdown, behind a wall in rusty chains
My hands and feet are in shackles, so I can’t move
This the first time in my life
That I don’t know what to do, and
Not even my family knows what I’m going through
Being forced to eat small portions of shitty meals
And if we complain, they say, “We’re lucky
That we are being fed.” They got grown men
Sleeping on bunkbeds. Many men have
Committed suicide for living under these conditions
They then told the C.O.s that they were going
To do it but they ain’t listen
I was taught to stand for something
Or continue to fall for anything
These men must been brought up differently
Cause they don’t stand for nothing, but count time
They bring opprobrium to my race, because
They quick to fight each other but won’t
Even fight for their own freedom
And none of them have thoughts of escape
It’s like they are scared of these gates
They got me surrounded by cowards
Who are content with being oppressed
By racist a** C.O.s, that applied pressure
The institution is the new plantation
It’s slavery at its best, yet we fail to rebel
Because they install slave mind frames in us
That cause us to get side tracked
And look forward to mail, but I refuse
To be like the rest, so I stand alone
Because I’m amongst broken men and
Once something been broken once
It could be broken again
Amongst the broken men

I See You

By BH

Looking through caged windows
So many faces, so much pain
Immigrants being treated less than animals
Hunted down and casted away

Homeless, displaced with nowhere to escape
God’s children
Traveling from place to place

It’s hard to call myself an American
As this can’t be the American way
What happened to the land of the free
The home of the brave
The Christian or Patriot way?

The days of yesterday has faded away
Dreamers are still dreaming
Still I see you, and will fight for you always

Remembering My People

By PJ

Look at my people

And Grandma’s slow movement
In her knee-length gown, slippers on
Braids cover her head, like a crown
I love her bold features, her high cheekbones
Broad hands grip her snuff can, and her eyes
They have a far away stare
But they’re focused as they keep secrets

Daddy’s fat hands pat his afro, as he picks it
I love the smell of his cigarettes
He always looks at me like he can see everything
Like he’s far ahead of what I think; he’s so serious

Mama, with her determined walk, never a wasted movement
So patient, and understanding; a refuge of sorts, from Daddy
She always indulges me
It seems they look alike with their afros and their slacks, their button-down shirts
They say opposites attract; she’s as light-hearted and forgiving as he is intense

Brother’s smile, looking like Daddy
With Mama’s patience, Grandma’s wisdom, and my innocence
My faithful companion, my confidant
I try to mirror him with his smooth black skin and wavy hair
The way he sucks-in his cheeks and puckers his lips
I recall drawing a mustache over my lips to mimic the peach-fuzz over his

Grandaddy’s big feet as he walked, dragging his black, big shoes
I recall: his hat and coat hanging in the hall by the stairs; I’d try-on both
Still today, I remember the smell of the inside of his fedora
Like Barbasol and Old Spice
Look at me, remembering my people

Grandma’s wisdom came from her full lips as I looked into her tired eyes
Never can I forget the deep lines in her face; wrinkled
She told of times long ago before slipping again into her doze
Being as young as I was, I couldn’t comprehend when she talked about love
Older now, I realize: hers was a traumatic experience
Now I understand: she had enough hope to dance around intimate details of: whips and ropes

Once I heard Daddy talking to Mama, he mentioned
Being called a nig–, again- I call David that all the time
Daddy said: “It reminds me of Virginia where they hung Tim.”
He said he hates remembering: Tim’s body swinging and jerking; he could still see the twisted mouth
Daddy said: “I hate what happened in the South.”

Brother’s eyes, they look just like Daddy’s
When he came to see me I rushed him – to say goodbye
Later – they found him beaten and shot
Brother’s companionship is deeply missed as he slips into drug and alcohol addiction
Brother’s “tagging” at my hip is a memory only as he’s been engulfed by the streets
His naïveté replaced with ruthless ambition; a do or die attitude
To get money, there’s nothing he won’t do
How did my brother become enslaved in the 21st century?
New chains, a life sentence that he can’t escape
In a penitentiary

Mama’s cries sometimes are silent
But they’ve embedded and etched the pain on her face
She carries her sorrows everywhere, that way
Still she’s beautiful, in more than a weathered way
Surrounded by masculinity, she’s the glue
Without her what would we do?
When Brother died, I never saw her cry
When I cried, only a look of familiarity
After Daddy’s death she was the pillar of stability
She’s family quintessence
Where it begins

Look at me
Remembering my people