CITIZEN:In shades of antebellum blue

The world is wrong. You can’t put the past behind you. It’s
buried in you; it’s turned your flesh into its own cupboard.
                                                                            ~Claudia Rankine

OCEANIC BLUES
African body / African amiss
Misery begins in the belly of a slave ship
Skeletal remains blanket the abyss
North Atlantic / bound and delivered
Sold off to the highest bidder
Centuries later they ask if I’m bitter?
To remember one’s holocaust
Is to forfeit American citizenship.

PLANTATION BLUES
Ancestral cries
Black bodies dot the horizon
Crimson sun
Fingers raw from picking cotton
The moonlight stirs
Freedom is a whisper
Sunrise is genocide
In the eyes of the undelivered.

CONSTITUTIONAL BLUES
Immigrants die to come here
I’m dying to leave
It is asylum I seek
From three-fifths continuum
Article 1, section 2
Buoyancy far removed
Second class citizenship
A ship in need of rescue.

ANTEBELLUM BLUES
My citizenship is bullshit
It is a history omitted
Color based, second rate at best
A community in neglect
Conditions antebellum blue
No 40 acres / no mule
Reparations buried deep
Six feet beneath the daisies.

PENITENTIARY BLUES
The abolition of slavery
Is illusory,
For where it ends
A prison nation begins
Manacled history
1863 to the 21st century
No mystery
Orange jumpsuits, blue misery.

POLICE BLUES
They patrolled the plantations
They now patrol prisons,
Poor neighborhoods,
And manmade demarcations
Tangled engagement
Black criminalization
White cops / ebony crop
Mass incarceration.

© Timothy James Young

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