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Category: Kamilah Aisha Moon

Hunt (1936- )

Already well-fed,

they sniff other quarry

to pass the days,

roaming & tracking fear

in fine leather shoes, sneakers,

combat boots.

Back then & now, bloodhounds

walk their dogs,

sic terror at too many turns—

Double-breasted, t-shirted,

uniformed beasts

always on the prowl.

from Starshine & ClayFind more by Kamilah Aisha Moon at the library

Copyright © 2017 Kamilah Aisha Moon
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Samaria Rice, Mother of Tamir

Can’t live here. Can’t live upright now. Just here,

he was. Too quiet, nothing bangs the screen door

or needs new shoes, nothing eats my cooking

or does homework at the kitchen table.

The sky closing, my daughter’s mind collapsing

like her baby brother on that grass. Can’t live

across the street from that gory field, can’t look out

of windows just like the windows some idiot

watched Tamir play from, called in the hit. Can’t bury

my son while they bury his case, bury justice

in loopholes & months of red tape. Can’t bury the cop,

though I have in my mind many times. Can’t deal

with walls, doors. Floors that are too damn clean

of 12-year-old sneaker prints. Can’t deal with over there

& this never being over. The ground howls,

beckons me as his infant cries once did. Footage

loops on & on—Tamir, Eric, Aiyana,

didn’t know murder could look like

wrestling, snuffing bugs, or taking out the trash. Can’t live

yards from the chalk outline near hopscotch grids.

My ears can’t hold the chirping of birds as if

nothing happened. Can’t do it! Lord help me, my child

& mind shot. Always gasping, two-second

discharge, bullet-fast oblivion. Police car

hearse-black. Why is my son not worth pause,

Miranda rights or any other protocol, a bad cop’s day

in court? Can’t have coffee across from the yawning

green mouth swilling his blood or boil eggs aside

that open coffin. Broken hearts bound

by yellow tape. Done living at this address of can’t,

of never again, of not sorry for our loss. Forward

feels pointless; let me live the whole truth now

that my family has been shattered. My head

on this homeless shelter pillow is honest—

there’s no safe haven I could ever own.

from Starshine & ClayFind more by Kamilah Aisha Moon at the library

Copyright © 2017 Kamilah Aisha Moon
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Staten Island Ferry Ride

Boarding the boats, we risk

Middle Passage riptides

still rolling in,

badged sharks

in blue.

Today we board to march

for Eric Garner.

Hooked by hysterical

arms, he thrashed

like a caught thing

on the sidewalk.

We roil past Lady Liberty.

Draped in a dingy gown,

her smudged face

stares back.

Weeds grasp

her hem.

from Starshine & ClayFind more by Kamilah Aisha Moon at the library

Copyright © 2017 Kamilah Aisha Moon
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Perfect Form

North Charleston, SC, 4.4.15

Walter Scott must have been a track athlete

before serving his country, having children:

his knees were high, elbows bent

at 90 degrees as his arms pumped

close to his sides, back straight & head up

as each foot landed in front of the other,

a majesty in his strides.

So much depends on instinct, ingrained

legacies & American pastimes.

Relays where everyone on the team wins

remain a dream. Olympic arrogance,

black men chased for sport—

heat after heat

of longstanding, savage races

that always finish the same way.

My guess is Mr. Scott ran distances

& sprinted, whatever his life events

required. Years of training & technique

are not forgotten, even at 50. Even after being

tased out of his right mind. Even in peril

the body remembers what it has been

taught (boy), keeping perfect form

during his final dash.

from Starshine & ClayFind more by Kamilah Aisha Moon at the library

Copyright © 2017 Kamilah Aisha Moon
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Felecia Sanders’s Granddaughter, 5

Mother Emmanuel AME, Charleston, SC, 6.17.15

It was so hot & she promised

we could get ice cream on the way home.

I never saw him at Bible study before.

He didn’t smile & I didn’t want to say hi

because he was a stranger & Mom said

don’t talk to strangers, especially men

you don’t know but Grandma told me to be nice.

There was popping like firecrackers.

I looked up from coloring & saw

his mouth was a line & people were

falling, red blooms on pastor’s white shirt.

Grandma grabbed me & we hit the carpet.

“Play dead baby. Play dead.” The words hot

& soft in my ear. We lay real still. Face down,

we held our breath a long long time, longer

than I can even count.

I heard “No!” & “Please,” calling on the Lord.

Where were you, Jesus? We pray to you

all of the time & this is your house!

Click-clack, more pops & screams.

Grandma was on top of me, warm.

Perfume, powder, sweat & smoke

stung my nose. I felt her heart

beating fast, so fast like after I run

but there was no where to run.

from Starshine & ClayFind more by Kamilah Aisha Moon at the library

Copyright © 2017 Kamilah Aisha Moon
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

The Emperor’s Deer

I.

Their noises make you think

they are crying or suffering.

They have learned to bow.

Even the fawns bow, centuries

of bowing

in their blood.

They are not considered wild.

Precious pests litter parks

with dung, take over the roads.

Sweet nuisance worth

saving, thinning these herds

is a last resort—once

a capital offense to spill

their endangered blood.

They are so used to humans, it is scary.

II.

Our cries are heard as noise,

our suffering considered

natural. Native citizens,

we are not free

to roam or deemed sacred

like Japanese bowing deer protected

as messengers of the gods.

Nara, Japan is known for its temples,

shrines to peace.

America is known for its churches,

segregated Sundays.

This is not Nara, Japan.

Hunted, it is always

open season. The sight

of dark skin brings out the wild

in certain human breeds.

Bowing, hands up

or any other gesture of surrender

makes no difference.

They slay our young & leave them

in the streets, expect us to walk away

& wonder, after centuries

why we are not used to this—

grieving masses treated

like waste, filthy herds

thinned at will.

III.

To be clear, this is America

& we are not deer

We are not deer

We are not dear

here

from Starshine & ClayFind more by Kamilah Aisha Moon at the library

Copyright © 2017 Kamilah Aisha Moon
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.