Below is an original poem I wrote after my childhood friend, Naomi Clyburn, was murdered in my hometown.

1. Pops was so absent that even a truancy officer couldn’t catch him with a GPS/

So I hung around my Mama’s brothers, I called them my uncles/

Society calls them losers because the only thing they’ve ever won is a free trip to the county jail/

They were hunted like bounty and got Bounty Paper Towels shoved in their mouths to keep them from talking.

2. They can’t talk at the battle box because they can’t vote/

They can’t talk at their job because they can’t get one/

They can’t talk at their house because their is no public housing for a convicted felon/

They can’t talk at the dinner table because their are no options for the supplemental nutrition assistance program.

3. Even Maya Angelou couldn’t fathom how these caged birds sing in a land filled with too much solitude to call home/

Feeling like an infidel and his own backyard and hearing the stomach grumblings that got louder with each day, my uncle began to squeeze his rifle a little tighter/

Until one day his gun went “pop”/

He came from a land where all he heard was “pop pop”

4. Popcorn was in the microwave when I turned on the television and saw my uncle looking back at me with glazed eyes and stiff -necked mug shot/

The shots flew out like happy hour, but it ended in a bloody Mary, Malcolm, and Martin/

Class warfare caused a warfare of astronomical proportions; blowing up those perceived to be the enemy/

Someone lay in a pool full of blood/

All because his stomach “popped”/

So he made his gun “pop”/

He, too, came from a land where all he saw was “pop pop”.

5. “Pop goes the weasle”  is what I use to say when I pretended to shoot people with the toy gun that Pops bought me before he got sent to prison for the boy that he popped for popping his trunk and pulling out the same toy that I shot water out of/

But only if it were H2O that hit the man, my pop would only be in pretend jail/

But there is no fiction to the cycle that has me in this black car with a black ski mask, black gloves, and this black revolver looking for a black kid to do him like the black plague.

6. I roll down my window scoping with a red dot, close my eyes, and then my heart stops/ Because after I pull  the trigger I die/

Although blood runs through my veins I’ve passed because I am heartless/

You can’t lead the people unless you love the people/

But my love was never locked down it was locked up in a cage.

Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains.