14th & Constitution

This is a “Poem of the Day” feature piece

So I guess now
I’m a domestic terrorist
I usedta live in dc
Really move through it
Like a woman in the know
Of the concrete and brick buildings
Very familiar with
The heavy sound of congas
Steel pan drums
Screamed vocalizations
And corner store runs
I used to really live in dc
Mark my name on newspaper stands
Hop the fare gates
Slide in between closing doors, finding my favorite spot
At the back of the train
Behind a glass plate
Blackness in my vision
Sights of a restless city
Kind in its ways
Abrupt/ but lovable
Loud/ but rarely boring
This used to be a city of homes
And dancing bodies
Beaten feet
And clappas
Alabama Avenue and its dwellers
Have been begging for
Grocery stores
Arts centers
And landlords with concern/
For decades
Since our great grandmothers and fathers
Stumbled into this swampy marsh
Hershey on their arms and legs
Flavoring this inconsequential District
With thick slurred language of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina
Mixing them in a way only colored folk can
Some chocolate comes from cocoa plants
Ours came from our parents
Who told us keep ten toes down
And ur head on a swivel
Cus u never know what’s lurking
Around the bend for u—
Opps donned in badges, others with social capital
And monies
Itching to rob u
Of ur home
And well deserved identity
I usedta live here
Now I bleed on the corners
Die in between torn asunder
Barbed wires and empty promises

So, to quell my aching spirit
I took to the streets
Brandishing all the weapons I could find—
Glocks, knives, tasers, and mace—
And became a domestic terrorist
I pushed strange people off the sidewalks
Hoping to send
A sliver of satisfaction to my people—dead and displaced
I bust the windows out their cars
Screamed “go home! We want our city
Our music, and claim to our culture
We want our sweet mangoes back
Singles and a safer Barry Farms
I lit flame to the monuments
Burned ‘Soufeast’ into the Mall
Until it was made clear
That this city was meant for the blackened
I picketed on 14th and Constitution
I yelled at the top of my lungs that
This ode to history and culture is nothing
When vessels of said “history and culture”
Are discarded                 wiped out
I threw landlords from
The top floors of their buildings
I dethroned Lincoln from his
Seat/ porcelain like the bones
Of Washington’s first slaves
I used the parcels of his remains
To etch my name
All along Independence Avenue

I cut myself open and
Recolored the scape of my city
Until it was Black again like it was meant to be

© Ama Akoto (2018)

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