Blood on the Leaves

Timothy Prolific Edwaujonte
3 min readJun 1, 2020
Design by Timothy Prolific Edwaujonte

I wrote this in 2014. It is heartbreaking that it is still relevant.

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For all those departed and all those left behind

//

I find names
etched into broken pieces of my heart

Too many to list
but all necessary to remember

our broken hearts are mirrors
we splinter into shards
every time

and the news and judges and prosecutors
say we bring death upon ourselves

because talking back to white supremacy
has always been viewed as suicide

and if you won’t slit your own wrists
or tie your own noose
they’ll be happy to do that for you

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…Black bodies…
…swinging in the southern breeze…

“If I had a son, he would have looked like Trayvon…”

Obama is hopeful.
Says we’ve progressed
through gritted teeth.

Didn’t they tell you
stages and gallows
use the same amount of wood?

Make a speech about change now.

…strange fruit…

I wonder how hard he’s clenched his jaw,
if he’s ground molars to dust

How much have we progressed
when we teach our children to cloak themselves,
to disarm the traits of Blackness that society fears?

Like you can’t be stopped and frisked in a suit.

…hanging from the poplar trees…

Maybe we need to teach
that asking for help can be answered by a shotgun,

that being in the wrong town after sundown
can still land you in a cotton gin

that lynchings
never were just a Mississippi thing.

how much blood has to be offered
how many have to be sacrificed

how many Black boys and Black girls
must bleed for us to be 5/5?

…blood on the leaves…

Find me a reason today to feel American
that doesn’t involve murder.

..and blood at the root…

I’m supposed to be a leader
supposed to have poems
and actions and answers

All I have is trails of tears
strangled by star spangled noose
blood on the leaves of strange fruit

//

This poem be for survivors who hold candlelit
street corner vigils
pour libations
tribute ancestors
fallen comrades
and incarcerated bodies

We be the complexion America
tries to conceal by staying out the sun,
the nappy kitchen it places hot combs to,
the accent it tries to untie from tongues

We be ringshouts, outlawed drums,
a chorus of 7 day candles
surrounded by glasses of water

we study Sundiata and Toussaint,
learn to walk with deformed legs

Freedom got a shotgun… Freedom gonna shoot it
Freedom got a shotgun and ain’t afraid to use it…

after genocide, slavery,
colonialism and Jim Crow,
what is heaven to you?

Malcolm said
when they’d throw the rope over that tree
they’d call for God and you’d call for God

by the number of lynched bodies,
which one you think answered?

They knew exactly what they were doing
when they whipped our language from our backs,
mouths dried out as they let the sun roast open wounds

We’d stand like Solomon Northup
fighting asphyxiation on pointed toes
While passersby went to church,
ate dinner, and hand washed clothes

dance nigger dance!

When our ancestors in the fields
sang about going home
they meant Africa
the people could fly
and would in this life or the next

the Africa our ancestors knew
only exists in our collective memory
we chart this path home
through offerings and blood

We been niggers 500 years
We been royal 5000 years
We been god(ess) forever

Remember?
Remember!
Remember.

Asé

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Timothy Prolific Edwaujonte

Timothy Prolific Edwaujonte (formerly Veit Jones) is a poet, writer, educator, genealogist, healer, and organizer. Learn more at Projones.com