Apicha Community Health Center sends its condolences to everyone grieving George Floyd, Nina Pop, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Jarmar Clark, Dreasjon “Sean” Reed, Botham Jean, Ezell Ford, Michael Brown, Stephon Clark, Tamir Rice, and the countless others who have lost their lives by the hands of the police force.
We all grieve with you.
To honor these lives lost we must focus our efforts on achieving justice for George Floyd and pursue meaningful changes to police departments to root out police brutality for good.
In this spirit, we share this poem--originally written for Apicha’s 2018 benefit gala. It conveys not only the grief, the anger, and the frustration that have become our far-too-consistent feelings in a world where Black lives do not matter, but also hope for a better world to come.
Written by Therese R. Rodriguez
In the jungles of St. Louis
In the state of Missouri
A white policeman on a hunt
Licensed to kill blacks
Found Not Guilty by a white judge
Another murderous act unpunished.
How many mountains should be leveled?
To have enough stones and rocks
At Goliath as David did?
The only weapon of anger
Yes, the glass doors and windows shatter
Explode in fiery scrappy mess
Looters claim what they can carry
No cash registers to fall in line on
Just a mad rush through those kicked-in doors
Main Street store owners collateral victims
Life savings swept away the morning after.
In the streets vivid replay
Centuries of grievance
Of ancestors hanging from tree limbs
Bleeding hands doing back breaking work
On sun soaked earth
For the owner to claim full profit
Of land and slave.
Abuse of power absolute
Immovable as mountains
Black bodies so young
Laying in caskets
Drowning in mothers’ tears
Cemeteries filling up
With their bones and ashes.
Prison cells bursting with
Bodies corralled behind cold iron bars
Snatched from mothers, fathers, partners
Sons, daughters and community.
Piles of human debris
Mountains of despair
Seeking breathing space
From a society where
Congregations in the streets
Angrily sing and chant
Like the Ugandan characters
in "The Book of Mormons"
"Hasa Diga Eebowai"!
Hearts hardened like stone
Only hearts can dream
Scaling the thorny and rocky terrain
Of a steep climb
Up the Golgotha
To unburden the cross
On the mountain top
Young black men,
Children of Newtown and Parkland,
Bodies pierced with bullets
Akin to Malcolm X’s
And that of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s
Their spirits live on
In Black Lives Matter
Parkland High School
Movements who now bear the burden of the Dream.
At the top of the world
Where the compass points nowhere
No north-south, no east-west
In the Japanese tradition of Kintsugi
Mending broken jars with gold
Finding beauty in broken things
An imperfect paradise
But paradise nonetheless.