Juneteenth 2022 Poems

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Poems from Untelling Tomorrows, Indelible Yesterdays: Juneteenth 2022

Ain’t I Enough 
By Jessica D. Gallion 

We are an unforgiven dance under a freedom sun 
A tail-slapping praise marching in like screaming accordions and  
hallelujah swamp water baptisms 
To be a licorice hurricane trapped in the grin of humanity is  
a blinding exhaustion 
A muted scream asking to be evicted with every exhale 
More withdrawn with every rifle to the head deposit in deaths  
memory bank 
Where numb-struck whiteness is a victim and terrified of erasure  
WE are the curse, needing to be reversed  
Meaning we are no more American than we are God’s child 

Watch they say we wanted it like this 

This thingness 
All purple and rhythmic 
A deafening convulsion Existing and disappearing in untelling tomorrows and indelible yesterdays 
This blackness is warm 
And dangerous 
An untruth Orchestrated by a blasphemous tongue 
A sinful symphonic Crescendoing countless attempts to oust these bodies since …forever 

A membership paid in pain and prayer 
Where human life potlikkers itself into a rolling boil at the height of evils flame 
Because Nana ain’t spared 
Child don’t mean innocent 
Any  one  thing  
 can get it 
And bullets were never assigned names,  
Just aim and pull 
Just aim and pull 
Just aim and pull 
Watch how names rain down like a gurgling drum in the palm of a mothers hand 
A sickening empty in the pit of heaven 
How many more levels of tired are there 
How much longer before we reach the water 
Tell me there is 50 stars waiting for me when this is all over 
That my blood, is blood enough 
Look at me 
Don’tchu see me breathin’ 
How you think I got like this 
Come smell the salt of the Atlantic on my skin 
Pull the magnolias from my feet  
Here, I’ll even let you touch my hair 
You wanna taste my greens 
Can’tchu hear the dirt of Louisiana in my mouth 
I am a golden roux birthed from cast iron and constant whisking 
A Survivor of unending wars that remind me… I BEEN Juneteenth 
I got a family and a dream 
Or will the flag never fly half-staff for me 

©Jessica D Gallion 2022 


No Animal 
By Jessica D. Gallion 

Black Man ain't no animal  
Just because you hunt 
and kill him for sport  
Don't mean you get to trophy his head on precinct walls 

Interestin’ how he never becomes endangered  
Funny how he survives after years and years of buying 
and killing him off 

Black Man ain't no animal 
And although he is rare bird, 
Doesn't mean you get to strategically pluck and clip his wings with a full clip while we watch a clip of it on social media  

See, he be ebony Phoenix  
Rising despite gun smoke  
Soaring high above expectations with every degree 
Every black owned business 
Every sacred marriage  
Every son and daughter that knows him and every community that depends on him for their very existence 

I'm telling you, 
He ain't no animal 
Because if he was  
He would have ripped yo ass open long time ago 
Sank his teeth in,  
dragged your lifeless body back into the cave  
Devoured your ignorance  
discarded your bones for all to see  
He don't want none of yo kind running though his veins  
Never wants to become like the animals that treat him like prey  

But since he is hunted, 
He knows when to run  
How to hide 
Doing his best to dodge bullets 
Traps and trick ropes… just so he don't end up hanging from one 
He is breakin’ free from the cage they tried to put him in 

He could never be tamed or trained 
No matter how much you whip him, 
The shape he is in will never be for your benefit 
The day he turns animal, is the day, 
The jungle falls  

©Jessica D Gallion 2016 
From Can’t No Woman, Woman Like Me Published with World Stage Press



By Hiram Sims 

They use to kill us for this  
Force Fed us death sentences for writing down sentences  
Penned down and murdered for the right to write on pen and paper. Lined up on a firing wall for these fragments 
Subject to the pulling of triggers for subject verb agreement 
My grandmothers perished for paragraphs  
Indented on indentured servitude in this peculiar institution  

They use to kill us for this  
My grandfathers pronounced dead for hiding pronouns under their pillows Vocabulary pouring out with the blood, forbidden ink oozing out of their pores Mutilated for our metaphors  
Decapitated for their Capital letters  
Killed for the curiosity of quadratic equations 
my kinfolk slaughtered for synonyms  
Transitioning for transitive verbs written on the walls of a slave cabin  
lynched for their lexicon  
knocked off for these noun conjugations 
run down for these run-on sentences  
my mothers massacred for writing their monikers  
just for writing their names  
beautiful brown leaves hanging from the branches of my family tree terminated for their terminology  


We use to die for this  
America’s southern graves are filled with students  
Who looked like us, walked like us, wanted to learn  
Like us And when they speak to me at night  
From their shallow graves in Arkansas  
As I contemplate the thought of being furious  
They say, do not be Angry for Me  
Read for Me, Write for Me,  
Spell for me, study for me, learn for me, speak for me  
Read for Me, Write for Me,  
Read for Me, Write for Me  
And live 

© Hiram Sims 



Whereas the teaching of slaves to read and write, has a tendency to excite dis-satisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and rebellion, to the manifest injury of the citizens of this State: 


Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That any free person, who shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any slave within the State to read or write, the use of figures excepted, or shall give or sell to such slave or slaves any books or pamphlets, shall be liable to indictment in any court of record in this State having jurisdiction thereof, and upon conviction, shall, at the discretion of the court, if a white man or woman, be fined not less than one hundred dollars, nor more than two hundred dollars, or imprisoned; and if a free person of color, shall be fined, imprisoned, or whipped, at the discretion of the court, not exceeding thirty nine lashes, nor less than twenty lashes. 

II. Be it further enacted, That if any slave shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any other slave to read or write, the use of figures excepted, he or she may be carried before any justice of the peace, and on conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to receive thirty nine lashes on his or her bare back. 

III. Be it further enacted, That the judges of the Superior Courts and the justices of the County Courts shall give this act in charge to the grand juries of their respective counties. 

Source: "Act Passed by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina at the Session of 1830—1831" (Raleigh: 1831). 

Significant anti-black laws include: 

1829, Georgia: Prohibited teaching blacks to read, punished by fine and imprisonment[8] 

1832, Alabama and Virginia: Prohibited whites from teaching blacks to read or write, punished by fines and floggings 

1833, Georgia: Prohibited blacks from working in reading or writing jobs (via an employment law), and prohibited teaching blacks, punished by fines and whippings (via an anti-literacy law) 

1847, Missouri: Prohibited assembling or teaching slaves to read or write 

Between 1740 and 1834 Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Virginia all passed anti-literacy laws. South Carolina prohibited teaching slaves to read and write, punishable by a fine of 100 pounds and six months in prison, via an amendment to its 1739 Negro Act 


black folk know what they know 
By Conney D. Williams 

Black folk and superstition 
go together 
like chicken and waffles 
mama said, “we know what we know” 
constitution fraction us 
as though we are not  
our own witnesses 
we drag the umbilical cord 
of Black mythology  
round our necks 
we fear boogie men 
and commodity trading 
the way America imagines itself 
reprogram the memory of history 
building true versions of lies 
the way you wear your Black 
masquerade as incantation 
When was America Great? 
idealistic slave holders 
dream messaging and utopia 
where Black folk never realize 
they were human all the time 
we return you to your 
regularly scheduled programming
these truths are self evident 
White privilege a coma out of context 
Black’s nothing more than allegory 
my community know Lady Justice 
got turned out a long time ago 
that hooker no longer blushes  
eyes gouged, she probably wishes she 
could wash her hands like Pontius Pilate 
casting spells to absolve himself 
but realize this ain’t destiny but fate 
dice always roll snake eyes 
Daddy said, “we know what we know” 
like when massa preached 
“slaves obey your masters” 
black folk was like, “yeah right, motherf*cker” 
they knew massa couldn’t be talking about  
the same Jesus they grew up with 
in Egypt with nappy locks of hair 
moved to some projects in Galilee 
Black folk known more than rivers 
we learned to walk on water 
without the assistance of a Messiah 
Black folk ain’t never believed 
in no White Santa Claus no Easter bunny 
people from my neighborhood 
doubted forever that Neil Armstrong 
leaped for all mankind 
on the dark side of the moon 
prosecution of a police officer 
nothing more than sad fairy tales 
across the vastness of Black  
engulfed by exploitation & stereotype 
we learned to disrobe our faith 
transform naked from scars, we know 
superstition stitched in our housecoat 
cos’ of alterations made by colonizers 
only take them one generation 
convince Black Folk they God 
ain’t really no God 
what kind of name for God  
is Ogun & Oshun, Shango & Yemaya 
Black tradition only incantation
the White God the only God 
everybody know Jesus favor Jeffrey Hunter 
with blonde hair & blue eyes 
I know you’ve seen his picture 
hanging in your grandmother’s kitchen 
the White heaven the only heaven 
the notion of Jefferson’s equality 
ain’t nothing cept White noise 
has no traction in Watts or Leimert Park 
the prism through which 
Black folk view one nation under God 
is never indivisible or for ALL 
Black folk in America 
born on imbalanced scales that  
spill niggas into profitable prisons 
or street corner executions 
told you Black folk  superstitious 
if you let the constitution explain it 
everybody got a equal chance 
but you tell me what country  
get a 400 year head start on capitalism 
with all that free Black labor 
I know what you’re saying 
all Black Folk do is play the victim 
the chorus is never unrehearsed 
we know 
what your Chicago references mean 
how it explains who you are 
as though we hire thugs 
to protect and serve we know  
your blame a nigga handbook 
save the advertisement 
we know how the birth of a nation ends 
we’ve known outgunned  
we know crack and contras 
got Reagan elected to a 2nd term 
yet Black folks only cast in “B” movies 
we saw that bootleg  video 
that defenseless Black body 
hands in worship running in reverse 
sprawled & splattered like  
the chalk lines of a FBI informant 
across television pavement and a Simi Valley courtroom 
you sabotage our every movement 
blackmail is an ironic word 
J. Edgar cross dressed King & the Panthers 
black bodies lack the kind of gaskets 
that prevent loss of scarlet memory 
make up your mind 
you want us subservient or compliant 
we already know  
whether you Republican or Democrat 
you only gonna ride so far with us 
only difference one more upfront 
Republicans appreciate niggas  
self loathing in their demographic 
Democrats want niggas who like  
bounced checks over real change 
White America almost never believe 
when Black people say how they feel 
when we say that we were murdered 
and the video was not grainy 
even as Black folk 
call for mamas  
instead of pleading the 5th 
ain’t nothing unbelievable about reruns 
with unchangeable plots 
Mama said, “we know what we know” 

© Conney D. Williams 


humanity builds shrines 
By Conney D. Williams 


(I heard them) South Carolina flesh terrorists 

exhume their prosperity from Nat Turner wallets 

Mein Kampf for secessionist memoirs 

it is the new millennium inside AmeriKKKa’s killings fields 


virgin cotton swabbed in exploitation 

I am blue from red and white welts 

the American swastika waves above Columbia 

South Carolina shitty confederate diapers 


General Lee still fights for control of Gettysburg 

while Aryan nations due south of Mason-Dixon line 

memorialize Ku Kluck and Klan 

whose membership revoked for not paying Union dues 


these unkempt sheets silk their arrogance 

with latent debutantes un-chaperoned  

in their Gestapo waltz  

they lobby for new civil war and neophyte niggaz  


but reluctant African passengers 

vacationing on American Colonial Cruise Lines 

to exotic destinations like Jamestown or Monticello 

coagulate for a shackled coup d’état 


no recovery effort was organized  

for the misplaced American Negro 

America’s amnesia is a terminal hematoma  

what is America’s indignation 

with those incredulous American niggaz 

never embrace enslavement as cause for celebration 

unthankful for their improved economic status 

apologists erect a pageantry of indifference 


then parade their litany of anti-heroes 

Mississippi hosts secession banquets 

while the governor of Virginia confirm 

the proclamation of original sin   


these revisionists want a slavery 

that honors the phantoms of their past 

“what are black folk so mad about?” 

this is America’s reparations 

to memory of my great, great, great grandfather 


and for exploited servitude boycott  

and I will no longer worship ol’ glory’s despicable altar 

or succumb to history of demystification  


because I am not jack’s-son or jeffer’s son 

my birth is from the womb of Yoruba 

where humanity builds our shrines  

© Conney D. Williams