by Soyini Denise Liburd

Stay in your place.
Stay in your cell.
Make me happy,
and I will smile at you.

I made your box and
Took away what you needed to Live and
Gave you what you needed to survive.
You were happy
until, in a dream,
you saw what it was
to be my equal.

Now you want to rise
But I say to you,
"Stay down!"

You attempt to right yourself,
You want to fix your situation.
But my box has no ups or downs,
only circles and parallels.

You can not survive in my world.
Freedom will kill you
faster than I
Release your childish fantasy
of being like me
you only bruise your skin against the bars

When you didn't know,
I could be nice to you
I'd invite you to dinner,
and throw you my crumbs
and you never knew that you weren't my equal,
and it amused me to see you in the dark.

But now I must be stern -
for your own good -
I can't encourage you to rise
Your wealth is mine.

My friends and I laugh at you,
Trying to stand up,
on uncertain legs
After I've made you crouch for so long.
Trying to be strong,
Without the brothers you would lean on
The brothers I have kept you from.

If you stand, can you walk?
If you walk, can you run?
If you run, can you be free?
It will take you too much
To be like me.
So give up now.
And pray for a better day.

Now you look at me through the bars
Now you're in pain
at last
you feel your captivity.
Can I keep you where I want you?
You're standing now.
Will you walk?

(dedicated to Mumia Abu Jamal)


Oppressus by Soyini Denise Liburd

© Copyright 1999. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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