Stranger Fruit, a poem

Yesterday I was in the shower, angry. This has been a general theme of my morning showers since January 20th. So I wrote some of those angry thoughts down, and some people identified with them.

I want to keep identifying and connecting.

This is a poem I wrote for a local reading a few weeks back. It didn’t have a title at the time, and it still doesn’t, so I’m going to steal the brilliant words “Stranger Fruit”. This poem is a reminder that those of us in positions of privilege must forever resist the temptation to look the other way.

Stranger Fruit

My father was born in 1947, 
The same year that Willie Earle fed the appetite of the American machine Willie Earle was a mulberry, 
His seed planted in Pickens County under beech trees and willow oaks
Growing along the Reedy River and blossoming out across the red clay of Cherokee Path
Sweet and tart, 
Mature after 24 years of life and breath under a South Carolina sun, 
Willie Earle was ripe
“Lord, you done killed me,” he said

My mother was born in 1959, 
The same year Mack Charles Parker was turned into fuel for the country’s engine
Mack Charles Parker was a peach, 
His pit matured by muddy floodplains in Core River County 
Sprouting a fuzz of adolescence on the creaking Branch Bridge and
blooming over Catfish Lake
Juicy and firm, 
In season after 23 years of light and weight under a Mississippi sky, 
Mack Charles Parker was ready to eat
“Don’t drag me, I want to walk,” he said

Strange fruit still needs harvesting

I was born in 1988, raised along the years and names of Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Philip White, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Freddie Gray, Amadou Diallo

How far have we come? I don’t know, but my parents don’t feel very old to me