no safe place

(Video of me reading this poem can be found on my YouTube channel.)

where were you?
the night the city erupted in flames &
we practiced bein’ dead
wearin’ cuffs engraved with our names &
our placards read “justice now for blank”
we gotta reuse ‘em in the mornin’
with special people to thank
did you miss it?
when the chains on your grandmother
closed with a snap &
and your precious goddaughter found eternal rest
instead of a nap
when your brother never made it home after sayin’
“i’ll be right back!”
cuz his mahogany skin & dreadlocs
got him a bull’s eye target painted on his back

do you recall him
the last guy who said he had a dream?
now every april 4th we remember the King
can you still roar
sleek black panther with sharp claws
or have you been defanged & shot without a cause?

you’re under suspicion
can’t put your hands in your pockets
or be out walkin’ your dog
can’t wear your favorite hoodie
while out takin’ a jog
you’re not allowed to leave your ghetto
get a job or purchase a home
you’ll be leavin’ wifey behind
to raise that baby on her own
you can put your hands in the air &
say “i just want a hug”
but when their finger’s on the trigger
all they see is a thug

Sumayyah Talibah


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