Kalief Browder (poem) – C.Way

  January 24th, 2017

 
 
 

KALIEF BROWDER


Unscrew the bolts anchoring your A/C to the wall
           
          I stand behind
          Words rise up & crowd my throat
                    like a clump of blind baby piglets 
                    smelling the teat
          All swallowed back down

Work the air conditioner, deliver it
    to the bed of pillows you've prepared on the floor

          1,000 days

          I picture you in your box
                    unfed, filthy, dreaming of a loaf's end-pieces
          your hand through the slot, waving your completed worksheet
                    asking for someone to grade it
                    "Miss! I got work for you!"

Squat down, peer through the new hole
    Noonday sunlight slides in
    Watch a green bottle fly
          swoop in, swirl, leave

          Summer nights with the heat vents baking
                    your 12 x 7 oven
                    Kevin next door with the disintegrating laugh
                              slamming his forehead into the wall

          Thirty times told: No trial, Soon, Soon
          Half of your mother's words over the phone
                    blotted out by sobs 
          And your hand still holding the slot, 
                    waving, waving, always waving 

Stick your arm out, checking clearance
    Feeling drips from an A/C above

          Over and over, you work on bedsheet nooses
                    using your teeth to make strips
          getting a little better each time
                    And when they cut you down they beat you
                              because a hang-up means more paperwork
          And when they don't cut you down
                    they say "Jump, Go ahead and jump" 


Gather your yellow braided sheet cord
     from its cache in the closet

          You're out
          but no 3.5 GPA or donated MacBook Air or Haldol
          can stop you from waking
                    at 4 AM, sweating through your clothes 
          punching holes in your wall
          trashing your TV because it's watching you

                    Because your hand never got out
                              of that slot 
                    Waving, waving, always waving

Take the sheet-cord, start to gauge its length

          Biking home from school last summer
          Beats in your ear, crisp loving night
          Sweet hour when the black wave 
                    was ebbed
          When the white swarm 
                    was quiet
                    a hive of cold bees 
	
Wind it, cinch and pull, blood starts to swell your cheeks

          Kalief
          I am hungry, hungry, always hungry
          I don't know what to do with this hunger
          But talk to you
          And say that it is not justice I ache after
          I burn for us all 
          To stop choosing fear & shame 
          Over love

          I am behind you
          The words become unstuck

          I am so proud of you 
                    for not taking the deal 
          For sharing what happened
          You did not get to learn what you should have 
          But I have learned 
                    integrity and courage from you 
          You fought 
          You are good


Crabwalk up the opening
    launch yourself feet first
    get stuck, scrape your back, shimmy through
    drop, hear yourself gasp like it's someone else

Other sounds

Plane way overhead rumbling through the sky

Your sneaker heels skittering the brick

Rosa's pink-dyed poodle
          barking at nothing in the hall

That new kid
    Playing video games next door
    Throwing his controller against the wall again
    Screaming


                                          Chris Way, Nov 2016
[posted by C Way at 11:03 AM]

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