Skip to content →

Category: Kamilah Aisha Moon

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.