10KSOULS: Word Work

 

 

won't you celebrate with me

 

won’t you celebrate with me

what i have shaped into

a kind of life? i had no model.

born in babylon

both nonwhite and woman

what did i see to be except myself?

i made it up

here on this bridge between

starshine and clay,

my one hand holding tight

my other hand; come celebrate

with me that everyday

something has tried to kill me

and has failed.

 

Lucille Clifton, “won’t you celebrate with me” from The Book of Light.  Copyright © 1993 by Lucille Clifton.  Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc. on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

 

 Rest in Love Trayvon Martin

Rest in Love Trayvon Martin

 
 
 Rest in Love Sandra Bland

Rest in Love Sandra Bland

 
 
 R.I.P.  John Crawford

R.I.P.  John Crawford

 

Lil Kings by Frank X. Walker

Statement on the Killing by Quraysh Ali Lansana

New Rules of the Road by Reginald Harris

Narrative: Ali by Elizabeth Alexander

 

 
 R.I.P. Korryn Gaines

R.I.P. Korryn Gaines

 
 
 Rest in Love Tamir Rice

Rest in Love Tamir Rice

 

REVERSE: A LYNCHING

Ansel Elkins

Return the tree, the moon, the naked man
Hanging from the indifferent branch
Return blood to his brain, breath to his heart
Reunite the neck with the bridge of his body
Untie the knot, undo the noose
Return the kicking feet to ground
Unwhisper the word jesus
Rejoin his penis with his loins
Resheathe the knife
Regird the calfskin belt through trouser loops
Refasten the brass buckle
Untangle the spitting men from the mob
Unsay the word nigger
Release the firer’s finger from its trigger
Return the revolver to its quiet holster
Return the man to his home
Unwidow his wife
Unbreak the window
Unkiss the crucifix of her necklace
Unsay Hide the children in the back, his last words
Repeal the wild bell of his heart
Reseat his family at the table over supper
Relace their fingers in prayer, unbless the bread
Rescind the savagery of men
Return them from animal to human, reborn in the long run
Backward to the purring pickup
Reignite the Ford’s engine, its burning headlights
Retreat down the dirt road, tires speeding
Backward into rising dust
Backward past cornfields, past the night floating moths
Rescind the whiskey from the guts
Unswallowed, unswigged, the tongue unstung
Rehouse the flask in the field coat’s interior pocket
Unbare the teeth, unwhet the appetite
Return the howl to its wolf
Return the shovel to the barn, the rope to the horse’s stable
Resurrect the dark from its heart housed in terror

Reenter the night through its door of mercy

Ansel Elkins, "Reverse: A Lynching" from Blue Yodel published by Yale University Press. Copyright © 2015 by Ansel Elkins. First published in Boston Review. Used with permission of the author.

 
 Rest in Love Emmett Till

Rest in Love Emmett Till

 
 
 R.I.P. Alton Sterling

R.I.P. Alton Sterling

 R.I.P. Philando Castile

R.I.P. Philando Castile

 
 
 Rest in Love Mike Brown, Jr.

Rest in Love Mike Brown, Jr.

 
In this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face ‘cause they don’t love that either. You got to love it, you! And no, they ain’t in love with your mouth. Yonder, out there, they will see it broken and break it again. What you say out of it they will not heed. What you scream from it they do not hear. What you put into it to nourish your body they will snatch away and give you leavins instead. No, they don’t love your mouth. You got to love it. This is flesh I’m talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I’m telling you. And O my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. and all your inside parts that they’d just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver—love it, love it and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.
— From Beloved by Toni Morrison, page 89