“Free”

Day 7, Word: Free

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
A body gently swinging with the breeze in the night.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
Finally fell victim to a system meant to protect him and his right.

His right to live, his right to speak, his right to take a knee, 
His right to walk, his right to dream, to learn, his right to be

“Free.”

And the cop car’s red glare,
In the rearview, a pair
of gleaming, frightening viper’s eyes.
I feel his teeth around my life
While my own teeth chatter.
Sure. All lives matter.

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Is the mother of a child born destined to weep. 
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
Gently carries: His ashes, her boy can finally sleep.

My skin, my nose, my eyes, my lips,
My history, my ashy knees, my poverty, my hips.

Even my hair.

Yes. Just like the rest of me.
Even my hair has to fight to be free.

I killed it with chemicals, constrained it 
Until I learned it was already beautiful.
Un-learned that I had to always be dutiful.
Then relearned because people were silenced for being too vocal.

Because no refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.*

These are human rights for which we fight in the night.
The dove knows not that it is white.
And love cares not that you are frightened.
The tensions of the sub-dominant will be heightened.

See, I can play brave, but when can all of me 
truly live in the land of the:

“Free.”

Freedom is a fantasy, and society is to blame.
194 blacks (and counting) killed by police this year.

SAY. THEIR. NAMES:

Keith Scott, Age 43.
Dahir Adan, Age 22.
Terence Crutcher, Age 40.
Nicholas Glenn, Age 25.
Tyre King, Age 13.
Markell Bivins, Age 25.
Terrence Sterling, Age 31.
Gregory Frazier, Age 56.
Sadiq Idris, Age 25.
Robert Brown, Age 55.
Moses Ruben, Age 36.
Jerome Damon, Age 25.
Michael Thompson Jr, Age 38.
Levonia Riggins, Age 22.
Jaqwan Terry, Age 24.
Alfred Toe, Age 34.
Donta Taylor, Age 31.
Kelley Forte, Age 34.
Brandon Coles, Age 25.
Omer Ismail Ali, Age 27.
Kenney Watkins, Age 18.
Colby Friday, Age 30.
Sylville Smith, Age 23.
Fred Barlow, Age 61.
Darnell Wicker, Age 57.
Jawari Porter, Age 25.
Earl Pinckney, Age 20.
Jamarion Robinson, Age 26.
Demarco Newman, Age 43.
Korryn Gaines, Age 23.

… And that’s just August and September.

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* Many people do not know that these four lines (in their entirety, directly quoted) are from the third verse in the National Anthem. We usually only sing the first ..