it is possible to genetically code terror

no was not a word she could use. not here with him in this place.
no implied sovereignty. self hood. she was no self.
no power. no is not what was said. or felt. or thought.
there was no no. not for her. so he took what he wanted
as she called him master.

it is possible to genetically code terror. for an oppression
to be grafted onto marrow, stored inside red blood
cells. it is possible to pass along trepidation like you
might your mother’s grey eyes and father’s flat
nose. sourcing the dread as easy as plowing a field
of tobacco.

he picks dread off his collar with each passerby. making
himself smaller so that little white ladies won’t cry. i don’t
want no trouble ma’am. is a mantra he plays on repeat.
it doesn’t matter what he does, trouble always seems to
find him. muscles and sinew matter so little when paired
against the trigger. what life is this to live when anything
at any point could make you dead.

fear is not our friend. it is the haunt that sits in the corner.
robbing us blind of every god granted joy. it sucks life
out of our children making them passive when they should
stand tall. it drowns our elders in rivers of regret. it possesses
our parents forcing them into choices no one could
live with.

and yet…we speak not on it.

the consternation that follows us from generation
to generation. since 1619 when we first landed. if
you ask what are you afraid of and we’re being polite
we’ll talk about the night and not being able to see
the road ahead of me. but the reality is what we’re
really afraid of is you.

white men. white men with guns. white men with
guns and money. white men with guns and money
and power. who move in broad daylight and take
what is rightfully ours.


the impact of america’s peculiar institution of slavery did not end once the south surrendered in 1865. the legacy of slavery can be found even today. it has deep and strange roots. and we do not speak of it. 4 million americans were freed at the end of the civil war. 4 million. yet we do not speak about slavery. we do not think on it. not as a nation. if you ask her america treats it’s slave history like a cold it had once that’s now gone. but the truth is it was more like tuberculosis and that can’t be treated with vitamin c. for more information on slavery in america, check out this from the history channel.

5 Comments Add yours

    1. Thank you for reading.

      1. Your poems are some of my favorites

  1. What Barbara says, for sure.

    1. Thank you for reading.

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