PALMETTO POEM: I Wish You Black Sons


after Lucille Clifton  |  For people who believe: # Black Lives Don’t Matter

00_icon_poemBy Glenis Redmond, special to Charleston Currents
I wish you the ability to bear only black fruit
I wish you only sons
I wish them black
spilled from your loins like black ink
I wish you code words like: inner city  urban    hip-hop
I wish you Baltimore, DC, Newark, Philly, Ferguson, Charleston, Charlotte
and Greenville and so on…
I wish your sons long walks home
through white neighbors’ yards
I wish the neighbors’ curtains peak open
I wish they call the cops
I wish you that you live your life on the lip of this terror
I wish you dreaming of ways to whisper protection
in your sons’ ears
I wish you the knowledge that these words
won’t keep your son safe no matter how you tell him
to be clean cut and respectful and to say:  yes sir and no ma’am
I wish him natty locs and a grill
I wish him dreaming of revolution
I wish him on the frontline of the fight
tatted up and dressed in black leather
I wish you a minimum wage job
I wish you always a dollar short
I wish you no private or charter school
to keep your child away from bad influences
I wish you a job scrubbing toilets, but your mind always
on your son’s trek home as he is tracked like a suspect
I wish you a teenage boy full of shenanigans
I wish that he smokes weeds
I wish he gets in fights with his friends
I wish him a boy like any other boy not perfect,
but labeled a thug for life
I wish him stalked by a trigger-happy cop
unloading justified bullets in his black behind,
because he had it coming anyway
I wish that police officer off Scott free
time off with pay,
when he kills your son
I wish that police officer $500,000
from his Crowd Funding account
I wish you your son’s autopsy report
I wish it shows your son’s broken spine
and crushed vertebrae by his own hands
I wish you wondering how he killed him self
I wish you hear in your sleep eleven times:  I can’t breath
I wish you black
I wish you black sons
I wish you dressed in black
I wish you a black mother’s worries
and a black father’s prayers
I wish you no bandages for your bloodied son
I wish you only tears to wash his wounds
I wish you salt in your wounds:
I wish you Fox News on repeat
I wish you invitations to funerals every week
I wish you a world that cannot see your son,
but for the color of his skin
and not all the shades of how you know your son
from goofy to socially awkward
to wanna be the coolest on the block
wanting to go to prom
wanting a tight haircut and fresh kicks
I wish you not one flower at his funeral
just quotes about black on black crime
I wish you a world that never talks
about white on white crime
I wish you a stone for a pillow
I wish you awake all night alive in this place
where we have always lived:
1600s   1700s   1800s   1900s   2015
I wish you America
and your black sons are named:
Emmett, Trayvon, Michael, Oscar, Walter, Freddie and Tamir
I wish you awake enough to see: black
for what we always have been: black
and what we will always be: black
I wish you sight to take in: black
I wish you both eyes and heart to see
why we don’t parade the banner: all lives matter
because we know the statistics they don’t
I wish you: us
or at least the ability to see us: black,
but nevertheless like you: flawed, beautiful and human



Glenis Redmond is the poet-in-residence at The Peace Center for the Performing Arts in Greenville, S.C., and at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, N.J.  From 2014 to 2015, she served as the mentor poet for the National Student Poet’s Program to prepare students to read at the Library of Congress, the Department of Education and for First Lady Michelle Obama at The White House.  Redmond is a Cave Canem Fellow, a North Carolina Literary Fellowship Recipient and a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist.


Comments are closed.