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Segregation Continuum

after Ella Baker & Glenn Lignon

layered in black on black on white canvas

we who believe in freedom cannot rest

looking at the way we look looking forward

stepping back by way of upturned neck by way

of three steps back looking black coded by way

of black modes by way of reconstruction by way

of insurrection by way of colored fountains by way

of elected democrats or elected aristocrats

it is obvious we are a presence

though we have been discomforted

at school gates at rental offices at museum entrances

even we cannot rest who believe in freedom

we are to some an irritant an ire some tire some lot

we do not subscribe just because something comes

out of a leader’s mouth out of the mouth of a tyrant

so we are too difficult we are much too difficult

we are much too aware we are much too marked

we are all that matter to us that matter

we are the most comforting presence by way of

nod by way of pound by way of sup

we are always fashionable when we do not try

we do not try to insult except when we do

but we do not hesitate to speak of the things

about which we agree or disagree we participate

at the level of our thinking by way of our thinking

by way of our mass expression

we who believe in freedom cannot rest

where once hundreds & even thousands of we

ordinary people had taken a position—that made us—

very uncomfortable when we decided for instance

to walk rather than take the bus

from You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for LoveFind more by Yona Harvey at the library

Copyright © 2020 Yona Harvey
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Published in Poems Yona Harvey

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.

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