Poems

The Deep

Freedom is a faraway vessel 
rarely boarded,
inaccessible by way of shallows.
The sea is unforgiving. 
Waves crash upon the shore,
cracking like an overseer's whip,
striking fear--
generational paralyzation.
No one plunges deep.
Instead, they stand on edges,
live in bones that hesitate,
never making headway. 

© Timothy James Young, April 2021
I Am More

Wrongfully convicted,
“socially distanced”
condemned.

Names are nullified.
Numbers are given–
erasing human existence.

Yet I exist as more 
than a tapestry of imprisonment.
I am resistance.

© Timothy James Young, January 2021
Wilderness

I walked through the wilderness
A forest of new dimensions
Asphalt for grass, gun towers for trees
A zoo of rats, roaches,
And the shadows of men.

In this new nature
An enigmatic vision
Roses crack through concrete
And butterflies rest upon
Military grade razor-wire.

Permanently encased
In a matrix, a maze
Creatures of misfortune
Phantoms without names
Exhibits of no escape.

In the wilderness lies the bones
Of an endangered species
Numerical skeletons waste away
Compost for systemic machinations
Black ecology—a cry unheard!

© Timothy James Young, May 2020
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, March 2020

Root of the Matter 

"Struggle" typifies a thousand branches 
Sprawling from a tree 
Each limb an "Ism"
Born of the same seed.

Structural heirloom 
A tree bequeathed 
Inherited, enabled, enriched 
By roots of racism. 

"Ism" is a plague 
Purge or be ruined 
Uproot 
Plant anew!

(C) Timothy James Young, March 2020
Wings of Friendship

Here in the dungeon 
Amid condemned men
The weather of life
Is often inclement 
The winds of misery 
Blow relentlessly 
Fortunate is he
Who dares to transcend
Rising above it all 
Fortunate is he
Who can spread his wings 
And find friendship beyond the walls 

© Timothy James Young, February 2020
Solitary Garden

For Herman Wallace and Jackie Sumell

Solitary Garden
Is not just a plot of land
On the campus of UC Santa Cruz.
To the contrary,
It is an installation
An iteration
A destination worthy of gander.
Riddle it a spot
A spot where we grow crops
A spot where we grow thoughts
What kind of thoughts, you ask?
Thoughts of freedom and abolition
Thoughts of tearing down walls
And shutting down prisons.
Will into existence
A Green New Deal
Revolutionary in hue
Justice driven
Interdependent
New landscapes
No prisons.

©  Timothy James Young, January 2020
Do More Than Pity Me

What has sympathy ever done
To rectify historical wrongs,
Or to relieve one’s pain,
Suffering, and misery?
Do more than pity me:
Empathize, take action, avenge me!

© Timothy James Young, December 2019
Behind the Veil

Behind the veil
Lies a familiar face
A race
A particular stench
Stinking rich
Reeking of privilege
Their capitalism, a euphemism
For slavery, sweatshops, and low wages…

Behind the veil
Lies the top 1 percent
The upper echelon of
Capitalistic tricks
International poverty pimps
Bleeding the needy
The need to be greedy
Insidiously killing mankind…

Behind the veil
Lies are told
Propaganda sold
Wars waged
Natural resources siphoned away
Environmental decay
Capital rules the day
Humanity falls by the wayside…

© Timothy Young, January 2017

Featured in OVERTHROWING CAPITALISM Vol. 2: Beyond Endless War, Racist Police, Sexist Elites
Starve The Beast (revisited)

Plantation toil, penitentiary moil, 
Where slavery ends 
The Prison Industrial Complex begins
Stomach history 
1863 to the 21st century 
Wanton misery,  no mystery,  
Statistics quite frightening 
Fraught with disparity 

African Americans constitute 
12% of the nation----- 
50% of the prison population 
That's mass incarceration 
Modern day enslavement 
Black lives on a platter 
Served up
Consumed. 

Forever strange fruit 
Courtrooms abound with Black youth 
Legal lynching ensues 
The gavel is a noose
Freedom dismissed 
American justice amiss
School to prison pipeline 
Lucrative slave ship.

Dred Scott was the genesis 
The aftermath stupendous 
Millions of lost souls 
Prison,  probation,  parole,
Hollowed
Criminalized 
A dream deferred 
A holocaust unrecognized.

A better world is possible 
Prison abolition is logical 
Proceed logically 
Think beyond the bounds of 
White supremacy 
Decolonize 
Decarcerate 
Starve the beast!

© Timothy James Young, December 2016