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
“I don’t have any drugs. // I told
you // I don’t have any drugs.”
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! Give her a follow on twitter @karo_ska