Wednesday, April 27, 2011

DOPE: "We Know This Place" by Sunni Patterson

This poem is one that you must give your undivided attention to, so listen when you have the chance to and I promise you... you will be taken on a journey: one that begins in New Orleans and branches forward through time, through circumstance, through worlds!!

So we know this place,
for we have glanced more times than we’d like to share
into eyes that stare with nothing there
behind them but an unfulfilled wish
and an unconscious yearning for life
though death rests comfortably beside us.
At night their moans are louder.
They come to visit the guards at the gate,
and they stay until morning
torturing their guilt-ridden insides.
The silent cries of the keepers are louder
than the booms that come from the guns
they use to occupy the space.

And we know this place,
for we have seen more times than we’d like to imagine
bloated cadavers floating through waters of a city gone savage,
foraging the land for what can be salvaged.
But what can be saved when all is lost?
It happened in August, twenty-nine days in.
We are now five days out of the only place
we knew to call house and home.
Few things are certain:
one, we have no food;
two, there are more bodies lying at the roadside
than hot plates being distributed
or first aid being administered
or recognition as a citizen.
Fourteenth Amendment, X, refugee, check.

And we know this place.
It’s ever-changing yet forever the same:
Money and power and greed, the game.
They suck and devour the souls of the slain.
What a feast for the beast at their table of shame
with napkins around necks that catch the blood that drains
from the flesh they chew, it’s hailed again.

And we know this place, all too well,
dank with the smell of death and doom.
It hovers, it smothers, no growth, no room,
no pretty, no please, just grey, just gloom,
just burned me of hope, and it died too soon,
just juckin’, just jiving, just living, we just fools.

And we know this place. It’s decked in all its array and splendor,
golden streets with good intentions
capture our attention, gadgets and inventions
pesticide the food supply, flu-like symptoms,
diabetic condition, a cancer in the system,
held on hold, it’s a pistol to the temple.
Go run to the churches, tell reverend it’s simple.
Good works and good deeds is what equals redemption,
but tell me, please, Jesus never mentioned,
how do churchmen get extensions on freedom,
while children are being fondled
from the altar to the streets, then back to the sanctuaries?
It’s kind of scary, ain’t it?
to know that both the prophet and the priest practice deceit,
then come to the people and claim peace, peace,
come to the people and claim love, love.
But where is the peace, huh?
Where is the love?
Where that balm in Gilead
that can heal the wounded soul
or make the half-man whole?

I swear, we know this place,
because we have vowed before never again to return,
but here we are, back in the desert,
dry mouth and thirsting for waters from Heaven.
But come, come, children, rally around,
and maybe together we can make a sound
that will shake the trees or rattle the ground,
make strong our knees,
we’s freedom bound.

And we know this place.
Reclaim the crown.
Hold onto the prize,
never put it down.
Be firm in the stance,
no break, no bow,
got to forward on, Mama,
make your move now. Forward on, Papa,
make your move now.
Forward, dear children,
’cuz freedom is now.

To learn more about the amazing poet, Sunni Patterson, please visit her website at

No comments:

Post a Comment