I shouldn’t have to be afraid to have a little boy.
I shouldn’t fear the day that a male child
springs forth from my body.
It should be a day full of joy, not dread or fear.
I shouldn’t fear or worry about the hurt that will follow,
The hurt that is preordained simply because
he will be born with a birthmark that is target shaped.
The police will try to have his name on file before his first steps,
so that they can watch his every innocent movement,
so they can make sure he travels through
the school to prison pipeline on time.
Barely moments after having left my womb
the world will proclaim him to be at a deficit
all because he sprung out with brown skin from a brown skin mother
whose parents were brown as well.
Every day of his life will be a fight for survival,
not just because of black on black violence
but primarily because his school will try to starve his brain,
the police will try to rob him of his sense of safety,
and media will try to destroy every bit of dignity and pride he has.
And I will have to fight every day to get him to realize
that he can be so much more,
that 21 doesn’t have to mark the end of his life,
and that that hallowed hall education is far sexier than street cred even
if both are designed to leave him behind no matter how hard he tries.
I fear the day I will have to try to mend his wounds when his kin
calls him a sellout, simply because he fought for the advancement
that was promised but never given.
And I fear knowing that no matter how far he comes
a bag of skittles, new kicks, a wallet, a wrong look,
the wrong place or even winning presidency
could lead to his demise because that bullet finally found its target,
like it was his birthright.
I want a son because I believe in his potential
to be anything, to be any one
but I am terrified of the day he would arrive,
knowing all too well the challenges he will face
just because of his race.
I’m sure you thought you escaped
that by only taking a glance it was
a missed chance and nothing more...
you were wrong. I saw you peek
over your shoulder for another view.
I knew you would, see by that point
you were mine, my helpless fool, a
victim of my womanly charms, you
didn’t choose for take two... I tagged
you, worked my voodoo on you from
the moment you reached my view...
there was absolutely nothing to do,
see I am infectious, with a stare your
attention is captive here... Can’t you
already feel me wrapping myself
around your tongue so that you only
speak words of me? Soon your body
will be mine too, you’ll be needing
my touch like it’s the only thing able
to nurture your soul... The image of me
is now encompassing a sphere of
your dome and the only thought residing
is taking me home. I’d release you if
I wanted to but not yet, not now.
Just stand there paralyzed as that glance
transforms to a stare, then a fixation,
your imagination stuck on the thought of
me straddling you, and you entering there...
I know how it goes... but now is not
the time, and in moments you will find
that burning physical desire subside
as your veins rush this infection to your
beating heart... I know you can feel
the steady beat grow rapidly and all
you need is to know me, but all will come
in due time. See, I’ve got plans for you
ever since we crossed our views, and
my dear, there’s nothing left for you to do.
My world revolved around Red.
Red was his favorite color and
he was my favorite guy. I wrote
middle school sized love letters
to him placing my heart on page,
And at the coaxing of others and with
a three-wayed audience, I read
it to him one night and his reply
was to dedicate a tune to me.
“I’d Die Without You” was our song.
It was the song that confirmed
that he held a torch for me even
if it was dimmer than the light
my heart exuded. I spent evenings
glued to the phone talking him off
the newest ledge hoping he’d
instead leap for little ole me. I
loved me some Red like those
with oral fixations love them some
Wrigley’s Big Red chewing gum.
I’d chew over thoughts of him day
and night. He was skinny, scrawny
skinny but that bothered me none.
He had perfect caramel skin, a
smile that melted my heart and
a bullet between his lovely lips.
Never fully sure why he walked
around with it but he always held
it by his lips in class, and I’d stare
at it and at him as time passed. I
suppose it was his sense of security
and his tie to the street. It was
part of the stories he’d mention
in passing during his tales about last
night’s activities. But thug or not, I
fully embraced Red and hoped he’d
embrace me too...October came
I scrounged up the nerve to ask
him to be my Halloween Party date.
He replied that as long as his girl
didn’t go he’d be all mine. And
with this I was totally fine, until life
sideswiped me and my plans. Party
night was designated as the time that
mom and I packed, making a quick
exit from our hell...that was the night
Red was finally going to be under my spell...
...As I placed my life in boxes, I
wondered about the might have,
could have and should have been’s...
Red is grown and finally married and
that crush I had has long been buried.
We catch glimpses once in a blue.
Friends share updates on what is new
but at 13, Red was my complete world
and I was oh so close to being his girl.
by Arthur A. Marsh
Working hard to make minimum wage
He struggles to put food on table and clothes on child’s back
And no one seems to give the man any slack
Carries the world on his shoulders and doesn’t know how to share his pain
And soon all the pressure will drive him insane
Works hard to fulfill the strong black woman image
But more often than not her spirit gets damaged
While taking care of child, man and self
She forgets to nurture her mental health
No one but Woman can understand the pain she feels
It’s not possible for anyone else to walk in her heels
Miseducated in so many ways
And they can’t understand the price their parents pay
They see all and know all but are not heard
So they go and obey someone else’s word
Only they can see how badly they are frustrated
But in their parents’ head their story they never registrated
Black Man, Black Woman, Black Child
Why are they the way they are?
Why does the future for them seem so far?
Why must they all wear lonely scars?
They all have goals which they wish to achieve
But they need each other to succeed
And without the support they need
Their dreams, they will never achieve.
by Arthur A. Marsh
I step into the shower hopeful that my perfect
petite porcelain American image will restore
itself. But right now, right now my rotund bloated
body is filthy, covered in hate, blood, and guilt. From
split ends to hammer toes, I reek of rancid deeds.
But it’s morning now, all mourning must be washed
away with dawn. Wrong doings do not exist today.
We are American. We do no wrong, commit no
harm; we are perfection. Our history books are
testimonies to our greatness. Slaves were willing
workers, the natives happily donated their land for
the manifestly designed plan. Never is it mentioned
that the US established the 1900’s campaign for
purity. That was solely Germany’s fault. The stealing of
people, the raping of lands, the destruction of culture,
the sterilization of its citizens were all acts washed
down the drain. So why shouldn’t I be able to I wash the
blood off of today? Why can’t I scrub his name
off my lips? Why can’t I rinse this night from my brain?
I curse the day I gave my heart to a stranger only
to have it broken moments later. I hate my mentor
for mentioning his name. Troy. Anthony. Davis.
His story: Wrong choice with wrong people at
wrong time doing wrong things caught in wrong
situations with blue blood spilled permanently.
It was the ambiguity of guilt and the price to be paid
that tugged at my heart. It was a cost too high. A
penalty too stiff for testimonies that changed. Even
his compadre, his partner in crime turned prosecution’s
star witness, the blue man’s golden boy was overheard
confessing to the deed. A case built on lies, coercion
and circumstantial evidence would cost a life. A life
must not be spared! Justice must prevail! The cop killer
has to die!! Someone has to pay! Who it was and
proof of guilt didn’t matter, but they must be black.
Blue fingers pointed in black directions... fingers
pointed indiscriminately discriminately. A familiar
story...Was Troy a Scottsboro Boy? 80 years later
was the South still trying the same case? Had we
learned nothing from the 9 hijacked lives? Or was
it the lesson that black blood must be shed! Eye
for eye, life for life! And the justices were blind and
deaf to the reasonable and resounding pleas.
We screamed, shouted, marched, signed, wrote,
begged and with fists raised and baited breath
we waited. “Don’t do this” were the pleas and
prayers of the day. Blood spilled anyway.
Hearts broke worldwide. Tears poured from eyes.
Lynchings were once again legalized.
And while the weight of the night slowed time
and heavy hearts struggled against breathing easy’s
impossibility, dawn still came. Day
demanded its place in time and space even if
Troy remains in yesterday, free of bleak tomorrows.
The blood lust satisfied revealing us as bloated and
disgusting/disgusted Americans. The carcass
on our shoulders, blood smeared on our hands
and on our faces, with salt burning our eyes.
But none of this will stay, it will be washed away,
this is America’s way. The drain will provide freedom.
So I stand in the shower, I turn on the water, reach
for my loofah, grab my soap and begin the ritual. I
will try to wash away the grotesque image of self.
I will scrub ‘til squeaky, ‘til porcelain, ‘til the scent
of the bewitching hours’ stench is gone. The deeds
done at night under flags, we will not speak of.
I scrub. I scrub. And I scrub trying to remove his
blood from my skin, his name from my lips, this
regret filled night from my brain though knowing
this lynching cannot afford be washed away. This
cannot be status quo, cannot be the American way!