Karo Ska

we // the people

this is not a history lesson. white men write

pieces of paper, they begin “we, the people”.

we // the people sold on auction blocks

at the corner of Pearl & Wall

Tongva land devoured by Spanish-assimilated

Mexicans, cows harvested for the Gold Rush

we // the people’s hair chopped off, tongues

ripped out at Carlisle’s boarding school

missionaries thrust Bibles into eyeballs, pupils

forced to swallow white-skinned Christ

we // the people wrinkle our noses at sewer

pipe America, this is not a history lesson

in June 2019, US marshalls shot

Brandon Webber because he

had a warrant // in June 2015

Dylann Roof murdered nine people, the cops

arrested him without fear // for the people

white men still write on pieces of paper, authorize

building of walls to control labor flow, children

die in detention cells like stepped-on sprouts

we // the 2.3 million people chained in concrete

blocks,  Nature Sweet pays $2 million

to Arizona Corrections Industry, we // the people pick

tomatoes for free. this is not a history lesson.

me // in america, smelling white

picket fences, living in studios or one-bedroom

apartments, listening to teachers say

we belong in jail. me // in america

going to emergency rooms for fevers

and bronchitis. me // in america, $23,000 in debt

for a degree I don’t want. me // in america, fired

from jobs, bank account reads zero.

we // the people frozen in glaciers, saturated

in “who won the dodgers game” or “what

did Kylie Jenner do last night”. we // the people

a herd of herbivores across the savannah, lions lurking

in the grasses, picking out the ones who wander

off. we // the people eaten alive in amerikkka.

this is not a history lesson.



Her arms form

an X on her back, held

together by silver cuffs.


“I don’t have it! // I don’t have it!  // I don’t have it!”


Her voice is gravel, rising

in pitch. Hands search

her bag.


“I don’t have any drugs.  // I told

you // I don’t have any drugs.”


Fingers tighten

on her arm. Smirks



My heart thuds, my blood

pounds. Sandra Bland spins

in my head.

“Let her go! // Don’t hurt her.”


Silence.  // Silence. // Silence.

They lead her away, push

her into a white van, their claws

wrapped around her purse, laughter

in the slam of the door. She vanishes,

I am shrieking,


shri / nking


for my warrior  l  u  n  g  s.

Karo Ska is a femme/non-binary poet of color, living in occupied Tongva Land with her black cat muse. She uses poetry and art to flush out the contradictions of our Western-imperial society, hoping to threaten the status quo and build towards an anti-authoritarian, autonomous world. She will be releasing her first chapbook soon!

Twitter: @karo_ska

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