March 9, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Reuters photo



James Coburn




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.

Freedom moves.

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

Of color.


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

Of racism.

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

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.

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