el Jones I have a hard time seeing #BlackLivesMatter #poem

White space between pockets of lines are mine, so I (and others) can read it easier.

I have a hard time seeing justice as a reserve without a well
But then we bring its children a smudge kit in their cell

Don’t we wonder what will happen when there’s foster kids living in hotels
Or black children in the principal’s office 5 minutes past the bell
Because they never learned to read and they fell between the gaps
We start with zero tolerance by the time they’re done taking naps

Is it justice when some people start the race ahead by laps
In a country where we can’t even guarantee clean water from the taps
And there’s indigenous land under every prison on the map
And as you move up from minimum to medium to max
It’s a funny thing in Canada how the skin just gets more black

And that lack of access to parole that is kind of like a tax
A couple years of extra sentence that they tack on to our backs
And there’s those weapons laws they pass that they claim are for the gangs
While there’s white supremacists in prisons with KKK upon their hands
And there’s guards who give them daps

And the police can gun down teenagers and never hit the stand
I won’t even get into asking why we never charge the banks
But should anyone be sent to where they have to carry shanks

Eljoneslyrics.wordpress.com

 

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Full poem
I know a man who stabbed a man inside and got sent off to the SHU
But he says when somebody comes after you then what else do you do
I don’t believe that he’s a monster but that’s what the system say
And now he’s doing double life and might not see the light of day
And when you’re 15 and your family teaches you to sell crack
Well is there any coming back so you grow to manhood in the max
And we define entire lives by a person’s worst acts
So we just list their various crimes and believe we have the facts
So here’s another story of another lost defendant
He’s 20 years old and he’s 8 years into his sentence
Brought over to the prison from juvenile detention
Sometimes children in this country they just don’t deserve a mention
Until they commit a crime and then suddenly we pay attention
There are people in society we label as disposable
When you’re already doing time shouldn’t be the first time you’re diagnosable
And so we put them in a prison where at least they are controllable
And I suppose it isn’t notable and no one gets emotional
Unless we find out they are innocent then maybe humanity’s negotiable
But for the rest, you did the crime so your humanity’s ignored
And men are in so long they don’t know how to use a door
And men are in so long they’ve never heard of internet explorer
That’s what happens when you’re black when you’re indigenous and poor
When you’re considered to be a criminal before you’re even born
I get an incoherent call at 3 o clock in the morning.
The same guy who called me crying to report he was assaulted
He says he’s locked up in his room surrounded by guns and knives
If they come to take him back it’s either his or their lives
He says ever since he left the prison he’s been numbing with a high
But people say to close his mouth because it doesn’t happen to real guys
I suppose it’s ironic he’s from the same reserve as Donald Marshall
So it seems to me that justice there was only ever partial
When we look back at that case and say those 11 years were awful
But for everybody else the same suffering is lawful
I’ve heard so many tragic stories I could almost tick off a box
But still we call it justice when the prison doors are locked
We believe that punishment comes to the people who deserve it
But punishment mostly comes to the people who can’t swerve it
Can’t avoid it, can’t employ it, can’t voice it, can’t afford it
And then once you go to prison whatever happens can’t report it
If you can’t write how can you file Roebothams or habeus corpus
So we talk about wrongful but where are the rightful convictions?
Sure there’s Paul Bernardo, Clifford Olson, Robert Picton
But what about the man on his 50th charge of shoplifting
When it’s obvious to everyone the problem is addiction
And the truth and reconciliation commission can only be a fiction
As long as indigenous people out west are still filling up the prisons
I have a hard time seeing justice as a reserve without a well
But then we bring its children a smudge kit in their cell
Don’t we wonder what will happen when there’s foster kids living in hotels
Or black children in the principal’s office 5 minutes past the bell
Because they never learned to read and they fell between the gaps
We start with zero tolerance by the time they’re done taking naps
Is it justice when some people start the race ahead by laps
In a country where we can’t even guarantee clean water from the taps
And there’s indigenous land under every prison on the map
And as you move up from minimum to medium to max
It’s a funny thing in Canada how the skin just gets more black
And that lack of access to parole that is kind of like a tax
A couple years of extra sentence that they tack on to our backs
And there’s those weapons laws they pass that they claim are for the gangs
While there’s white supremacists in prisons with KKK upon their hands
And there’s guards who give them daps
And the police can gun down teenagers and never hit the stand
I won’t even get into asking why we never charge the banks
But should anyone be sent to where they have to carry shanks
I watch police roll into Ferguson with snipers riding tanks
I don’t think you have to not have done it for justice to be miscarried
When I’ve known men so long in prison that their babies now are married
Hell I’ve known men so long in prison that they first meet their son out on the range
And I don’t know that it is justice if we decide you can never change
And I don’t know that it’s justice when there’s men inside a cage
And I don’t know that it is justice if the scales will never budge
And men in prison with so much legal knowledge they could be a judge
And maybe they could have gone in that direction if they only got a nudge
And it’s true that I’ve known men who did a killing for a grudge
But does three seconds of your life make you only human sludge
And let’s not talk about the corporations that profit off it all
Like the predatory phone companies gouging prisoners for a call
Women going broke when their man’s conviction’s not their fault
I could talk about the scanners and how many hits are false
And how families are turned away after driving up for hours
Cause I dont know that it is justice when it’s so easy to abuse powers
I could talk to you for days and it would all be the same ruin
And I know men who did their time in prison with Assoun
And they’ll never be set free to share their voice in these rooms
And I know lawyers, guards and judges who do their best to change the tune
but in a society that’s broken it’s like reaching for the moon
And I confess I once believed that every person could be saved
And then it took a couple of years and it’s true that I got played
And I had to face that there’s some people who seem to always dig a grave
But I still don’t believe that they deserve solitary just because they misbehaved
And I still believe we can do better and that we have to find a way
And I’d still rather know I tried even if it means I failed
Because it will never be justice while the our solution still is jail
So from people doing time in Kent down to people in Renous
From people in the county up to people in the SHU
If that was your life story, what do you think you’d do?

 

 

 

 

 

Pamela Sneed Say Her Name Black Lives Matter

I had just begun to relax
celebrate the marriage equality ruling
I had just begun feeling with Obama I was
watching Ali in trouble off the ropes
delivering to his opponents the rope-a-dope
my fathers eyes
excitement
I was just beginning to breathe air
feel exhilirated at images of
Joe Biden and President Obama running
down halls of the White House with rainbow flags
like boys with kites-soaring
I was just beginning to forgive deaths of my brothers
to Aids
not forget
there should stil be tribunals
for them and every woman abused
by the medical system
I had just begun to turn a corner on Mike Brown, Freddie Gray
Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, The massacre at AME
not think of it all everyday
Then the police kill this young Black girl in custody in Texas
claim she committed suicide
I remember we’re a war nation
in war times
I imagine how James, Bayard, Nina felt
seeing a nation turn its dogs, teeth, gas, hoses, bullets,
on children, adults, humans
I cant stop thinking about Steve Biko
his battered face
they say he hung himself too
the worlds outrage
who will pray now
for us
America

“I Have a Dream” Pat Parker. “i can walk the streets/holding hands with my lover” #valentines #blackhistorymonth

I Have a Dream

i have a dream
.    no—
.    not Martin’s
though my feet moved
.    down many paths.
it’s a simple dream—

i have a dream
.     not the dream of the vanguard
.     not to turn this world—
.         all over
not the dream of the masses—
.     not the dream of women
.     not to turn this world
.         all
.            over
it’s a simple dream—

In my dream
.     i can walk the streets
.         holding hands with my lover

In my dream—
.     i can go to a hamburger stand
.          & not be taunted by bikers on a holiday.

In my dream—
.     i can go to a public bathroom,
.          & not be shrieked at by ladies—

In my dream—
.     i can walk ghetto streets
.          & not be beaten up by my brothers.

In my dream—
.     i can walk out of a bar
.          & not be arrested by the pigs

I’ve placed this body
.     placed this mind
.     in lots of dreams—
.     in Martin’s and Malcolm’s—
.     in Huey’s & Mao’s—
.     in George’s & Angela’s—
.     in the north & south
.         of Vietnam & America
.                & Africa

i’ve placed this body & mind.
.     in dreams—
.     dreams of people—

.     now i’m tired—
.     now you listen!
.          i have a dream too.
.          it’s a simple dream.

Pat Parker

More black poets to read through this link.

More about Pat Parker at the University of Minnesota’s Voices From the Gaps
Women Writers and Artists of Color.

From: The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry.
NEW and USED: Abebooks.com The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry
NEW at independent bookstores: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780195125634

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