Crushed by the System

By TG

We fought the fight for freedom.
Stood strong to support equal rights
Generously given for the next generations
All lost when we let go the light.

Further our fathers have faded
So sons now stand in quicksand
Growing in the gutter of gall
Losing their lives to the land.

Wise women our daughters and wives
Sewn with the spirit of strength
Gilded with goodness and greatness
Lending love in unmeasurable length.

Fore ordain, foreseen, foreshadowed
Soaring songs to the stars that listen
Guardians of the gangling ganders
You will not be crushed by the system.

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

The Tears I Cry

By DWS

Look in my eyes
& you’ll see the tears I cry

As I lie back on my bed
The vivid memories of my family
& I flow through my head, I’ll be a liar
If I say, I didn’t see this coming

Growing up in the city of D.C
Wasn’t always peaches & cream for me
I was always told by many I’m worthless
& would never amount to anything

Many nights I’ve set in the dark
Wondering if there was someone
There who could heal my broken heart.

My father was never there
So my mother had to do it alone
Struggling just to make ends meet
Raising 6 kids in a 3 bedroom home
To see my mother do this taught me that
Women are very strong, & I praise her
Every day for not leaving me alone

That’s why it hurt me
Because I never got the chance to truly thank her
& say goodbye because I was sitting in an 8.10 cell
When she died, just the thought of it
Brings tears to my eyes

Now look at me & tell me
Can you see the tears I cry

The people I thought loved me
1 by 1 all started to dissipate
& I realize they were never there for love
It was just the material things & again I find myself
Feeling alone like I once did before

& I yearn for my heart to be healed once more
But the biggest pain of all makes
Me feel ashamed & weak so much so
That I catch myself crying in my sleep
& that’s knowing I’ve abandoned
My children as my father did &
Becoming him was something I never
Thought I’ll be. Wondering will they
Hate me like I hated him makes
Me shiver in fear from limb to limb

The black white walls of my cell
Turns into a movie screen
& the memories of my past become
My mental pain

I start to feel my eyes water
& then the tears flow
& I think to myself
When will my pain go
Inshallah it’s soon
But, I have to remain patient
Until I come to know

Although people see me smile
& laugh a lot
I often wonder if they can also
Look at me & see

The Tears I Cry

Smile

By GD

I was still a juvenile and convicted as a child
Though sentenced as an adult
But still I smile…
I think about my reality and realize just how real it is
Then I laugh….
I don’t laugh because it’s funny
But because its “funny” how a young black man could
So easily succumb to his environment
But still I grow…
I’ve come to know many things, dreamed many dreams
All while living a nightmare
But still I ponder…
I’ve created wonderful things once I considered my intellect
As a key to unlock the box my mind’s been in for years
So now I know….
Though life has its adversities, and sometimes it can
Be a tremendous burden
I still got to walk that extra mile
Even if my feet are hurting
So, I’ll continue to smile….

I Write

By AL aka Black Messiah

I write to mentally open
the eyes of the blind,
for the “love” of all people
so no child is left behind.

I write for single mothers and
fathers struggling to get by,
for the ones battling addiction
and the urge to get high.

I write for those who vote
and hope for change,
for the homeless vets on the
corner begging for pocket change.

I write for the women not
allowed to read or write,
for the individuals who can’t
see past black and white.

I write for the children just
wanting a safe place to play,
for the parents who wait by
the phone and pray.

I write for all races no
matter what you’ve been through,
so, when they ask why I write
I tell them for you.