Posted on Leave a comment

Thoughts from the Road: Created in Violence

We are created in violence
Birthed in pain
Our only constants
Conflict and struggle
What can we possibly 
Ever know of nonviolence
When even our peace is achieved
Within storms turbulent
Enough to alter
The landscape of our lives

Posted on Leave a comment

Poem: Death is passive. Killing is not.

This poem came from frustration with the passive language most media use to report state-sanctioned murder and police brutality. They say “the death of” this person or that person, as if the person died in an unremarkable way. They speak of people who “lost their life” as if the opportunity to reclaim lost life is available. A more accurate wording would be “life was taken.” Life was stolen. Life was destroyed by someone who had no right to take a life.

Death is passive. Killing is not.
On the lynchings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breyonna Taylor and George Floyd

Death is a passive word.
There is no story attached to death.

Killing is an active word.
Someone does something:
Killer killed.

There’s always a story attached to a killing.
Who did the killer kill?
Why did the killer target the victim?
How was the victim killed?
Will the killer be prosecuted?
Is the killer still breathing?
Why do killers kill?

People who kill inherently believe
They are judge, jury and executioner.
They are the law,
Inhabiting space above, beyond
and around societal norms.
They enjoy an extrajudicial existence.
The law as we know it
needs to be eliminated.
We need to write new laws.
We need to establish new societal norms.
Killers need to know
Murder is not something else
Because of their badge
Skin color or family connections.
Murder is an intentional act.
It is purposeful destruction of an active life.
Murderers think they have the right
To take away life.
To steal another person’s breath.
To extinguish a human being’s light.
They do not have that right.

Witnesses need to name names.
Supervisors need to hold perpetrators
Accountable for their violence, brutality
And abuse of authority.
Administrative leave is not enough.
Job termination is not enough.
Payouts to injured families is not enough.

Full accountability and prosecution
of killers is necessary.
No matter their uniform.
No matter their perceived goodness.
No matter their community.
A killer is a killer. Their victims
Don’t just die. They are killed.

Breathing is active.
Breath is sacred.
Air is life.
We are all created beings
with the same Right to Life
and unhindered breathing.
Access to air should not depend on
Assumptions, opinions, political views,
Occupation, wealth, social status,
Skin color, mood, hatred of fellow humans
or self-hatred. Access to air should
not require legislation.
Yet here we are.

There is a great lack of understanding in America,
An astonishing general ignorance across the continents,
Of an elemental natural truth:

The deeper you grind US into the ground,
The stronger OUR roots become.
One day, your tsunami of brutality
Will wash you and your generations
Out into the sea you brought US across,
While WE who are deeply rooted in the soil
Will not only still be standing,
But will be flourishing. Gloriously.

~ LaShawnda Jones, May 2020

#newpost #blog #poem #wordpress #policebrutality #murderbycop #murderismurder #kill #death #media #biasreporting #passive #active
Posted on Leave a comment

Poem: Gwendolyn Brooks by Haki R. Madhubuti

 

Gwendolyn Brooks

she doesn’t wear
costume jewelry
& she knew that walt disney
was/is making a fortune off
false-eyelashes and that time magazine is the
authority on the knee/grow.
her makeup is total-real.
a negro english instructor called her:
       “a fine negro poet.”
a whi-te critic said:
       “she’s a credit to the negro race.”
somebody else called her;
       “a pure negro writer.”
johnnie mae, who’s a senior in high school said:
       “she and Langston are the only negro poets we’ve
       read in school and i understand her.”
pee wee used to carry one of her poems around in his
    back pocket;
       the one about being cool. that was befo pee wee
       was cooled by a cop’s warning shot.
into the sixties
a word was born . . . . . . . . BLACK
& with black came poets
& from the poet’s ball points came:
black doubleblack purpleblack blueblack beenblack was
black daybeforeyesterday blackerthan ultrablack super
black blackblack yellowblack niggerblack blackwhi-te-
       man
blackthanyoueverbes ¼ black unblack coldblack clear
black my momma’s blackerthanyourmomma pimpleblack
       fall
black so black we can’t even see you black on black in
black by black technically black mantanblack winter
black coolblack 360degreesblack coalblack midnight
black black when it’s convenient rustyblack moonblack
black starblack summerblack electronblack spaceman
black shoeshineblack jimshoeblack underwearblack ugly
black auntjimammablack, uncleben’srice black
       williebest
black blackisbeautifulblack i justdiscoveredblack negro
black unsubstanceblack.
and everywhere the
lady “negro poet”
appeared the poets were there.
they listened & questioned
& went home feeling uncomfortable/unsound & so-
       untogether
they read/re-read/wrote & rewrote
& came back the next time to tell the
lady “negro poet”
how beautiful she was/is & how she helped them
& she came back with:
       how necessary they were and how they’ve helped her.
the poets walked & as space filled the vacuum between
       them & the
lady “negro poet”
u could hear one of the blackpoets say:
       “bro, they been calling that sister by the wrong name.”

Haki Madhubuti, “Gwendolyn Brooks” from Don’t Cry, Scream © 1969 by Haki R. Madhubuti. Used by permission of Third World Press, Chicago, IL.

Source: Don’t Cry Scream (Third World Press, 1969)

Posted on Leave a comment

Poem: Life is happening.

Picture1So many years
wasted
waiting
wanting
forgetting
life is always happening
it doesn’t accommodate our schedule
or ask for an appointment
it isn’t scouting for the perfect environment
or adjusting for the most flattering angle
it doesn’t care about having
enough money, enough time
enough energy or enough of anything
life is simply happening
it’s on-going and going on
don’t let it pass you by
don’t get left behind
while looking back
or too far ahead
be where you are
fully
life is happening there
whatever you’re doing
wherever you have your being
life does as it does
it continues to happen
whether you’re ready or not
it will happen no matter what
don’t waste it on hopes for tomorrow
don’t wait to live out loud
don’t allow your wants
to diminish what you have
forget what isn’t
relish what is

Posted on Leave a comment

Poem: The Weirdest Dream

You were here with me (in a room, in the
sun, by my side, one on one).  I could see
you so clearly, feel you, even, and smell
all your scents – you know, the natural ones;
the perfumed ones; your hands – so warm, so strong
and comforting (all, your essence) – so missed.
I talked with you; laughed with you; saw your smile,
as if never gone; in my arms, alive.

I rolled over and reached for the phone.  Hi,
Mom… “Hi, baby, what’s wrong,” you would ask me.
I just had the weirdest dream about you….
We would talk; our closing of choice being,
“I love you, baby.”  Love you, too, mommy.
Rolling over, as sleep left me, my smile
faded.  Glancing, pitifully, at a
telephone with no connection to you.
How can it be, you’re not here with me?
These dreams only intensify my pain. 

Lost so absolute and unexpected.
Time doesn’t heal the wounds – it spreads them out
to de-intensify… or to numb one.
Memories… they don’t fade, as we sometimes
wish they would – they become detailed through our
rose-colored 20/20 hindsight, as
we see our past as we wish we’d lived it;
perfect and happy, absent of pain and
misunderstandings; moving together,
not apart, one unit, blessed throughout time.

The Weirdest Dream from Clichés: A Life in Verse by LaShawnda Jones

Posted on Leave a comment

Poem: Happy 43rd!

Today you would’ve
been 43.
Amazing!
Simply astonishing
how time speeds on
encompassing
other milestones and
life altering events.
Forty-three years old
today. Can’t picture it.
Painful to never
see you age.
Unreal –
you are forever young
eternally ageless….
So desperately missed.

Happy 43rd! from Clichés: A Life in Verse by LaShawnda Jones

Posted on Leave a comment

Poem: If, in leaving a place…

If, in leaving a place,
Those you leave behind
Sigh in relief and
Give thanks to God
For your departure
Then you can trust that
You offered no good
Provided nothing of substance
Added no value
To the space you vacated.

If, in leaving a place,
Your absence
Brings relief and praise
Then your presence must
Lend towards darkness.
Hate, malice, venom –
These are choices.
You choose to do wrong.
Plot to go out of your way
To cause harm.
You speak death even as
You’re wrapped in the embrace of life.
I have no sympathy for your wayward travels.
I spoke caution for the danger
You’re rushing towards
Offered respite from the
Consequences of your choices.
Warm shelter and full belly
In the midst of a concrete jungle.
You took what you wanted
Wasted the remainder unnecessarily
Misused, overused and abused my hospitality.
You left with no understanding of the
Safe harbor you cast aside in
Favor of lies and misrepresentations
There was no acknowledgement of grace
No thank you
No gratitude
Not even a: ♫♯ Dear John, by the time
you read this line, I’ll be gone…♭ ♫
No, instead you left a petition
for an order of protection
claiming harassment and abuse.
As if I were the one who
Showed up on your doorstep
Without warning or invitation
You asked for a restraining order
As if I were the one
Sleeping in your home with ill intent
Plotting against your peace
And dreaming of your downfall.

Entitled complaints all.
As if you have a right
To my life.
My property, my income,
My provision, my inheritance
Simply because you showed up
And lusted for the fruit of my
Praise, hard work and perseverance.
My struggle.
I have no curses to hurl at you
There’s no need.
You aren’t worth my frustration.
When I opened my home to you,
I made available to you everything
God has made available to me.
You have no idea how blessed you were
sitting in the shelter of the grace that covers me.
You rejected that when you attacked me.

A character like yours
doesn’t require strong sight to see.
Your stench permeates around you
It turns the edges of the space you inhabit.
You are your own worst enemy,
But you think you’re a boss
Making boss moves.
High-rise self-aggrandizement
In a borrowed Top Ramen reality.
Check yourself.
Check yourself.
Check yourself,
‘Cause you’re
Wr-wr-wr-wreckin’ yourself.

If, in leaving a place,
Those you leave behind
Are filled with satisfaction and joy,
Then your boss move –
Your departure –
Was actually an
Answered prayer.

Thank you for testing
My faith and resolve.
Thank you for dropping in.
Thanks so much more for leaving.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

~Ephesians 6:10-12

LaShawnda Jones
April 29, 2017

Posted on Leave a comment

Affirmation

I believe in living.
I believe in the spectrum
of Beta days and Gamma people.
I believe in sunshine.
In windmills and waterfalls,
tricycles and rocking chairs.
And i believe that seeds grow into sprouts.
And sprouts grow into trees.
I believe in the magic of the hands.
And in the wisdom of the eyes.
I believe in rain and tears.
And in the blood of infinity.

I believe in life.
And i have seen the death parade
march through the torso of the earth,
sculpting mud bodies in its path.
I have seen the destruction of the daylight,
and seen bloodthirsty maggots
prayed to and saluted.

I have seen the kind become the blind
and the blind become the bind
in one easy lesson.
I have walked on cut glass.
I have eaten crow and blunder bread
and breathed the stench of indifference.

I have been locked by the lawless.
Handcuffed by the haters.
Gagged by the greedy.
And, if i know any thing at all,
it’s that a wall is just a wall
and nothing more at all.
It can be broken down.

I believe in living.
I believe in birth.
I believe in the sweat of love
and in the fire of truth.

And i believe that a lost ship,
steered by tired, seasick sailors,
can still be guided home
to port.

~ Assata Shakur
Assata: An Autobiography, 1987