Generations: A Choice to Learn
The sun scorches,
but there is no degradation
of skin by the sun.
Only men degrade skin
hunting for pigment possession
as they degrade themselves.
Ships cross the Atlantic,
but not all hands are on deck;
they are chained below.
Children weep for their parents.
No one hears.
Slave master uses a whip,
but cannot tame who is born free.
Field hands build the country
but the economy propped by slavery
is a nail in a wooden coffin,
a bullet chasing feet on the run.
Bullets of fear
rooted in slavery linger, trigger.
The civil rights movement
did not stop in the 1960s,
not in the new millennium.
It comes back to your face.
How did you learn to believe
your experience is the brushstroke
of time when you colored canvas
for your convenience?
Experience crosses centuries. Listen.
Oppression, I hear the whispers today.
Oppression, I see the hypocrisy in governments.
Oppression, you are draped by indifference.
Ignorance with splintered wings torn from limbs.
How it simmers.
My experience was fostered early by white flight.
Move from doubt, not away from one another.
Step inside what others have lived
and you will understand choice.
A choice to be straight — never offered.
Could you choose?
Understand behaviors, genetics, stitches
binding words. Some binding wounds
with unconditional love.
Some binding words that will bleed
spoken in church to a 3-year-old
holding a rose on Mother’s Day.
Promises made, broken for some.
This lantern call in night,
people who do not know us
stand in judgement as experts
of who we are, knowing nothing,
raping with words.
Day of Kehinde
Organic as flowers popping
Up in a pool
Surfacing in life —
So deep from narrative unspoken,
Fermenting for centuries,
Finding its own way
From under fallen leaves
To the forest top.
Until heroism prevails.
Paintings by Kehinde Wiley
Emote what was long deprived
Abounds beyond historic privilege
To being quintessential in character
Taking me where civilization
Fell through empty chess board squares
From its own ignorance and pain
Black rises in color
Congruent to its mixture of life
From where life began.
Blackness bleeds in all of us.
This immeasurable lightness of being
No longer held down
Emerging from own merit.
James Coburn is an Oklahoma poet from the United States. His first book of poetry “Words of Rain” was published in 2014. The book was a finalist for an Oklahoma Book Award. Coburn is a Woody Guthrie Poet. In 2016, ten of Coburn’s poems against terrorism and to save the Sunderbans (wetlands) were published in “Onnyodhara” (The Alternative Way) Eid-special issue festival edition in association with “Anushilon” (The Culture & Literature Society) the National Literary Organization of Bangladesh. Coburn is a 2013 inductee of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame. He is a resident poet at nondoc.com.
Strong stuff, my friend.