This poem was inspired by the many black boys we lost between 2012 and 2016 to police brutality. This is for them.
You don’t know this but when you leave the house and don’t pick up the phone
Baby your black skin can get you into a lot of trouble.
When you said “baby I’ll be right back” the air shifted.
A sign of things to come.
You didn’t come home the same.
Came home in a body bag.
Came home in a bloodied hoodie.
Came home without my skittles and Arizona.
The boy who returned to me was not who he was when he left.
I am still trying to figure out how dark that street was for you
To look suspicious beneath that ominous yellow light.
I remember you when it rains.
We had had our whole lives planned out.
We were supposed to graduate together Tray.
Take over the world.
We were supposed to be something.
You had big dreams.
Your mother, God, she was so proud of everything you had become.
Please tell her I’m sorry Ms. Martin, I am for real. I know you never thought you’d see your baby die
I apologize a trillion times.
They’ve got your face in a history book now.
Called you a man.
You. Mike. Tamir. Emmett.
Oh, sing King Kunta. Sing from the mountain tops of freedom.
Sing past those bullets in your body, past the fan cord wrapped around your throat.
Sing from within.
Sing from the wire.