Wilting Flower

Sticks and stones, sticks and stones
A daughter cries into her soft pillow
in hopes that it won’t turn her heart soft
Words thrown at her with the accuracy
of a NFL quarterback
But on the outside its an incomplete pass
because she shows no emotions
no hurt
Exactly how she’s learned to
Her daddy use to sit her on his lap
coach her about things like that
how emotions are for the weak
and if you have them you best hide.
So that’s what she did.
hide them all inside next to her true self
bitch, whore, slut, ugly…
rang in her ears
but this soldier’s much too tough to show her many tears
that she cries into her soft, soft pillow.
As she cries she envies this soft companion and holds it tight.
Shots ring out from across the hall
bitch, whore, slut, ugly…
Her daddy, her mommy.
How can he tell her to be tough while she sits on his lap
but then hurl bullets that ZING past her unbrushed curls.
But, her mommy plays it right.
A shield of stoicism wrapped around her
blocking even the harshest yells.
bitch, whore, slut, ugly…
When men are taught to shoot
and women taught to hide
We create this internal battle we both keep inside.
All flowers are meant to bloom
despite knowing one day they will die.
Yet with each stick and stone thrown at her growing mind
this young flower hopes for the day she can bloom
before the beauty born within her
slowly, quietly
dies.

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More Than Conquerors

Teach a man, he’ll conquer the world.
What if this man must conquer such world to be taught?
For a child in a classroom.
One plus one does not always equal two.
As his stomach grumbles with only remnants of last night’s frozen dinner.
To that child “something ain’t” not “something isn’t” right
As his deep, muddy eyes desperate for assistance strain to see scrawlings on the not too distant chalkboard.
Lincoln might as well have been Martin Luther King Jr. on that morning at Gettysburg
As he tries to remember the winter morning he last saw his daddy
but can only see those red and white flashing lights
The streets bleed into the classroom
painting its once white walls red with innocent blood.
Brothers become the only true teacher.
Grades are issued with the finality of a bullet.
Yet if only this young man could conquer his world.
Then maybe, just maybe the world would actually teach him.

A Second City

A tale of two cities except there’s just one
City streets tell a story but only to some
One child marvels at the lights around him
while others get chills as the nights surround them
People come and people go each day, each year
Unaware of the prison walls that lock some in fear
Freedom, not an unfamiliar sight or fable told
But for those in the second city its something uncontrolled
No visible chains, no locks keep these citizens bound
yet their escape a distant dream to never be found
The same city that imparts hope and opportunity
for the forgotten it provides a desperate, hopeless unity
Citizens of the first city preach to these children to leave
To make something of themselves and just believe
but each sermon leaves these youth still enchained at their feet
With commands to run the race, but do not cheat
If cheating means merely hoping for the day
when the invisible chains will finally appear and fall away
Then cheating is the only way that this neglected city
will see their dead-end wandering as more than just shitty
But, hear this, we won’t stop until it is shown
that through a little invisibility and magic of our own
we can strike down the structures and chains that bind
and leave the tale of two cities far away, far behind.
Only then will the black son of God no longer face Abel’s fate
and maybe then the heart of the unaware Cain will choose to relate
Only then will a child’s prison of great lakes: despair and self-pity
turn this second city of beauty into my city, his city, our city.

Silence

One day.
One day a child.
One day a child in Chicago…
One day a child in Chicago will not fear the streets that birthed him.
One day a child in Chicago will not hope for his 18th birthday but will dwell in its certainty.
One day a child in Chicago will no longer orchestrate a war zone with spray cans.
One day a child in Chicago will be taught dignity, pride and honor in the classroom or the living room instead of the backroom of a closed down store front.
One day a child in Chicago will be able to call this city his home and not his prison.
One day a child in Chicago will hope to look into the eyes of his father instead of merely grasping his memory through a ripped photograph.
Today.
Today is not that day.
Today is not that day in Chicago.
Today a child in Chicago will be shot, beat, humiliated.
Today a child in Chicago will wonder what law he broke placing him within the prison of these city limits.
Today a child in Chicago will cry out to a god that he knows simply forgot about this city just to release the anger of generations built up in his heart.
Today a child in Chicago will be suspended for failing to do homework he was never taught to do in the first place.
Today a child in Chicago will become a man: wielding the tool of his father, carrying the burden of his family, risking his life for his brothers.
Today this child in Chicago shot a child in Chicago.
And today the world keeps turning.
And today the world keeps turning with nothing to say except the whispers of: oh, that’s just how some children are meant to play.