EOTO – Poems

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I Can’t Breathe – Karen Fletcher May 2020 (Social Worker in the CMSWTP)

What a painful and degrading way to die,

On a hard stone floor, under a Police man’s thigh,

His knee pressed tightly under George Floyd’s neck,

It continued there ‘til he took his desperate last breath,

George held down tightly by 4 white police men,

It has happened before and it will happen again,

In 2014 Eric Garner those same words he spoke,

While the white officers held him down tightly and his neck they did choke

Death, poverty, despair, job losses and crime have risen due to Covid19

But to kill an unarmed man held down is obscene

Now on the streets up and down the nation,

Is burning and looting and mass protestation,

It is caused by anger, injustice and frustration,

It is being reported that the rioting and fightback is down to ideological extremism,

When in fact the real reason is police and institutional racism

reason is police and institutional racism

T. Miller – “Ten Things You Sound Like When You Say AllLivesMatter in Response to BlackLivesMatter”

Black Lives Matter: No more silence – Maureen Mguni in Reid, W., & Maclean, S. (2021). Outlanders: Hidden narratives from social workers of colour. Kirwan Maclean Associates

I write because I’m sad

I write because I can no longer be silent

I’m choking

It hurts

All the pain

I write, not just for George Floyd

I write for every black person

A story of oppression

Generation after generation

I’m weary

I’m overwhelmed

I can’t breathe

“It’s just the black men” they say

“No one kills the women!”

“So facile” I think

How can you not see

Killing my husband, my son

Killing my brother

Killing my voice

You have killed me…

Your feigned ignorance

Your denial

You shatter every piece of me

Every day

We can’t breathe…

Still I Rise

Maya Angelou – 1928-2014

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

A poem for Black History Month

Solid Lines by Ayesha Williams

Why are the youth of today intent on taking lives?
Such scars left behind, both inside and out,
The acid, the guns, the knives.

What makes them think that they can take what belongs to me?
My essence, my spirit and what could have been?
For the credit, the clout, the ‘P’

I get it, it’s family, belonging and fear,
You’ve been alone and it’s tough in the cold.
But if your parents, grandparents, the Windrush’d could see
The pain would bring them to tears.

Spare a thought for the woman who birthed you,
Who struggled and toiled through the night,
Fought injustice- socio-economical
To give you her all as you grew.

I’m not here to preach but to listen
Because I fear for the youth of today.
I fear for the choices you’re making
And the dangerous paths that you take.

Do you think of your victims as people?
The loved ones that get left behind?
Did you know he was prepping for GCSEs
As he lives now under that steeple?

Think of the choices you’re making.
Think hard, can’t you see all pain?
The devastation, the heartache, the never ending grief
The defeat that greets upon waking.

Now’s the time to see who you are,
To re-evaluate all that you’re made of.
You were a person with dreams and, before it’s too late,
I pray you return from afar.

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