2018 Kingsley & Kate Tufts Poetry Awards Reading at the Huntington

good evening welcome my name is Patrick Mason I'm the Dean of the school of arts and humanities at Claremont Graduate University and it is my distinct honor and privilege to welcome you to this poetry reading tonight which is part of the Tufts poetry Awards thank you all for coming here tonight we're in this spectacular venue and I can't wait for the poetry that we're gonna hear this evening so I represent the institution Claremont Graduate University that for 26 years has been the proud home of the Tufts poetry Awards I've been thinking a little bit about institutions in recent years that's sort of a boring topic to think about but I've been thinking about it for a few years ever ever since I first visited Italy a few years ago one of the thoughts that impressed upon me as I walked around Florence was how the artists and the scholars whose glorious work I was reveling in and that impacted Western civilization so significantly did not appear in a vacuum Botticelli's Galileo Michelangelo da Vinci Raphael Giotto and many are many others they were all part of schools and academies urged on and supported and challenged by one another and sponsored by visionary patrons rather than laboring in isolation they worked in and were part and and and were in many respects the products of institutions that sustained the kind of artistic and humanistic community that allowed their particular individual genius to flourish those institutions not only nurtured multi-generational artistry but also provided spaces were important and often challenging work would be protected and preserved so tonight we gather thanks to the convergence of three essential institutions that nurture sustain and protect the arts and humanities in our current American culture the Huntington librarian gardens one of the great temples of beauty and knowledge in the western United States Claremont Graduate University a graduate only research university in the tradition of the liberal arts and of course the Tufts poetry prize which over the past 26 years has become a prestigious and not merely lucrative pillar in the world of Arts and Letters in a world that is all too ephemeral these three great institutions bring solidity and indeed humanity and so I thank the Huntington Library and Gardens for hosting us tonight I thank my own institution Claremont Graduate University for its enduring and significant commitment to the arts and humanities I thank the many donors and community members who have supported the Tufts poetry awards for over a quarter century and most of all I thank the poets particularly Patricia Smith and Anika Kelly for composing such poignant poetry that draws us all together tonight I had the pleasure of hearing them read at the award ceremony last night that we had at the CG of President's House it was a genuinely unforgettable experience for me to be in the presence of two women who speak so powerfully to the deepest parts of the human experience and soul it's become fashionable this past year in hat and a half I'm not sure what all has happened in the past year and a half you can guess but it's become fashionable to say that poetry matters more now than ever I'm not so sure that's entirely true poetry certainly mattered plenty when phillis wheatley used poetry to insist upon the humanity of people of color at the beginning of our national project but even if our times are not singular they are certainly unique and we each need to fiercely defend every institution that will in turn fiercely defend what it is that makes us all truly human of which poetry is paramount so thank you for being here tonight and lending your support to the Tufts poetry Awards thank you to the remarkable poets whose work we not only celebrate but whose work makes the these awards possible and meaningful and now let me turn the microphone over to my dear colleague and friend Laurieann Farrell who when she is not doing an astoundingly good job as director of the Tufts poetry Awards also finds time to be the McGuire distinguished professor of humanities and the chair of the English department at Claremont Graduate University thank you for being here Laurie Ann this is like a wedding we just give thanks and thanks and thanks Thank You Patrick and thank you all for being here let me add my thanks too and my welcome to Patrick's um especially thank you to not only CG you but the Huntington and I want to shout out a few names here specifically Steve Hindle Susan Turner low and the Huntington event staff I also want to thank Larry Wilson he knows why I'm thanking him giving out the kingsley and kate tufts poetry awards are simply the best thing claremont graduate university does I'm not overstating this well maybe I am just a bit because cgu does a number of great things and we do them well but we are justly if inordinately proud of being the home for an extraordinary bequest from an extraordinary woman Kate Tufts who more than a quarter century ago started looking around for a school who would help her pay tribute to her great love for her husband and the poetry he both loved and wrote on the off hours and therein lies the tale Keynes Lee Tufts dreams of writing poetry full-time but of course he had bills to pay but she did in his day job as a Los Angeles shipyard executive he died after hosting his annual New Year's party which always featured Kingsley reading aloud from his and others poetic works Kate Tufts won helped other poets turn their avocation into vocation she contacted several well-known Ivy League institutions who didn't return the call the president of what was then called the Claremont Graduate School did thanks to their collaboration today cgu is home to one of the largest poetry prizes in the world the Kingsley Tufts poetry award gives $100,000 annually for a book of poetry by a poet in mid-career the Cape Tufts Discovery Awards gives $10,000 for a first book by a poet of genuine promise this year the Kingsley was awarded to Patricia Smith for incendiary art the Kate yes let's stop for this and the Kate has gone to de Nika Kelly for best iary last last night we honored both poets at a private dinner held at the University but tonight we went the world and this is the world right to celebrate them Kate tough said a lot of quotable things we love to quote her but one of my favorites out of many is and I quote I just want to give poets a little breathing room had a little recognition a little something to pay the bills that little something is really something so before we get started I do want to recognize a member of Kate's family here this evening dan Clement are you here he yes dan is a supporter of all our events and when you see him at the reception afterwards just ask him about his college-bound high school project now our winning poets will be introduced by two of the distinguished poets who served on our judging panel this year Alena Byrne and Don cher so I'm going to tell you just a little bit about them and then I'm gonna get out of all the poets way pushcart prize winner Elena Karina Byrne is the former 12-year Regional Director of the Poetry Society of America she is a freelance teacher and editor and the poetry consultant and moderator for the Los Angeles Times festival of books as well as literary programs director for the Ruskin Art Club she is the author of the flammable bird mask and squander as well as dozens and dozens of reviews and poetry publications Elena has just completed a collection of essays entitled Boyer our meditations on poetry art and desire she and one of her poems has been starring in a magnificent electronic billboard at the corner of La Brea and Santa Monica if you haven't seen it drive there is it still up yes it's gorgeous she will be introducing de Nika don cher is the editor of the magazine poetry and the author translator and editor of 12 books he has recently he has received three national magazine awards for his work at the magazine and a Vita Award for his contributions to American literature and literary community both these marvellous poets who will be introducing our winning poets tonight have served with great distinction on our judging panel for three years Don as chair for two we have to let them go but we couldn't let them go without making them do one more job for us so I will now let them do that job thank you so much for being here [Applause] thank you so much Laurie and thank you to the Claremont Graduate University and also to Genevieve Kaplan who does so much of the work and thank you to the poets who have been a constant source of inspiration for me I think that's the best part of the job you come across this amazing array of writers that really teach you something and that was my favorite part of the job I felt like I was constantly learning something so Dona Kelly is the PhD professor at st. Bonaventure University where she teaches creative writing the author of a chapbook of areum and the full link collection best cieariy from Graywolf 2016 which was among other distinctions the winner of the 2015 cava condom poetry prize the 2017 Hurston write award for poetry long listed for the National Book Award one of the New York Times best poetry collections of 2016 a finalist for the lambda literary award and as you know we're happy to celebrate here tonight the winner of the Kate Tufts award in poetry if poetry is instant metaphysics as Gaston Bachelard insists evoking on the spot the dialectic of joy and suffering then poetry has met its match in this first beautiful book by donna kelley bessie area is an accomplishment of contrasts and fresh equations sadness quote is full of sadness when you have only just discovered how clouds move the sky is full of words and the speaker's quotes sister says tender into the phone like a woman who believes only in the idea of a woman between song and captured silence divination and derivation the past and the future Kelly apprehends what is dark undone and brings it back to us transformed in the light like her bird cutting the sky Kelly declares what menagerie are we what we've made of ourselves what is made with astonishing fresh clarity is a story weave of lyric poems that couple the real and the mythologized hybrid other emerges there the wilderness of self where quote with the rough calculus of walking we find angst leads to authenticity and vulnerability is power take this excerpts hallucinatory overthrow of the senses as your new tool for seeing the world anew Kelly says in your ear the black bear winters and believe me once he winters he wakes and reclaimed spring please give a warm welcome to our Kate Tufts winner [Applause] hey y'all how's it going and it's good I'm very I'm very excited to be here I'm excited to have been awarded the Kate Tufts thank you so much – loriann and and Genevieve and I'm also like I'm so excite I'm gonna try to keep it together I'm just just reading with Patricia Smith cool cool cool everything's fine I almost chickened out and read a different thread in the book but I think I'm gonna read it's work that's a little bit more difficult I'm also gonna share some new work because part of what I understand is the the ethos of the Kate Tufts is an investment in my future as a poet right and so I want to maybe preview some of what's in the what's in the pike okay it's funny I almost never I often start with this poem but there are things that I usually say that I don't think I need to say right now so I'm just gonna I'm gonna start with fourth grade autobiography we live in Los Angeles California we have a front yard and a back yard my favorite things are cartwheels salted plums and playing catch with my dad I squeeze the grass and dirt between my fingers eat my tongue white he launches every ball into orbit every ball drops like an anvil heavy and straight into my hands I am afraid of riots and falling and the dark the Sun set of flames ringing our block groceries and Asian owned store fronts no one to catch me midnight walks from his room to mine I believe in the devil I have a sister and a brother and a strong head Laak we have a dog named spunky fawn and black we have an olive tree a black walnut tree a fig tree we lie in the grass and wonder who writes in the sky I lie in the grass and imagine my name a cloud drifting Saturday dance parties everyone drunk on pink panties screwdrivers and Canadian Club dominoes and spades Al Green and mac-10 sometimes mama dances with the dog sometimes my dad dances with me I am careful not to touch he is careful to smile with his whole face there's a sequence in the book and the structure of the title is love poem : and then some kind of mythological animal and I like to describe the mythological animal because I think it's useful for us to be on the same page about which iteration of the thing I'm talking about and so for this poem love poem chimera the version of the chimera that I was thinking of when writing this poem has the body of a lion and then the tail is a snake at the end of the tails like a snake's head right I love people are like sure alright yeah it makes it kind of intuitive sense but then in the middle of the back is the goat's head I just think it's useful to think about love poem chimera I thought myself lion and serpent thought myself body enough for two for we found comfort and never being lonely would burst from my back from my bones would lived along the ridge from crown to crown from Maine to forked tongue beneath the skin what clamor we made and the birthing what hiss and Rumble at the splitting at the horns and beard at the glottal bleat what bridges our back what strong neck what bright eye what menagerie are we what we've made of ourselves as a door oh and there's a little thing that you might I don't know like in other parts of the country people kind of remember this like around 2011 like new around New Year's in Arkansas which is where I where my family moved to after we left California left LA a number of they found like all of these dead blackbirds in a field and they had no idea how the birds had died they just found them in a field one morning and it turns out that they were startled from their roosts in the night and like flew into like the side of buildings and in the part of New York State where I live I remember saying this and a woman said those were our birds because they winter like those birds migrated south to winter she felt that very keenly in a way that I had not anticipated self-portrait as a door all the birds died of blunt force trauma a barn of wire of slow or yield children at play you are a sign are a plank are a raft are a felled oak you are a handle are a turn are a bit of brass lovingly polished what birds what bugs wood soft hand come knocking what echo what empty what room in need of a picture a mirror a bit of paint on the wall there is a hooked rug there is a hand hard as you are hard pounding the door there is the doormat owl I patched by a boot by a body with a tree for a hand what roosts what burrows what scrambles at the pound there is a you on the other side cold and white as the room in need of a window or an eye there is your hand on the door which is now the door pretending to be a thing that opens so Pegasus we all what most people are like oh yeah the winged horse sure right it's cute what I think most people don't know is that Pegasus was born when Perseus specie is just I just don't even want to hold it in my mind which one of them it was usually someone knows so Perseus I believe cuts off the head of Medusa is that the one some people are like sure yeah we can go with that and so from Medusa's next spring's pegasus right because Medusa was at least originally a mortal woman like me and from her body a horse with wings that a man could ride emerged there's another there's a Pegasus has a subway will circle around to that in just a little bit um but what I just the gestation process is what I find troubling there's a lot that I find troubling but that is just like an ancillary troubling bit love poem Pegasus fold fully grown from my mother's neck her severed head the silenced snakes call this freedom my first cry a beating of wings abandoned call me orphan before I even know what a mother is I think myself arising feather and huff neigh and CAW and you always on my back you bear a sword and shield remind me of her labor her stoning gaze what beasts will your blade free next what call will you loose from another woman's throat handsome is in the dream my father hides inside another man's body I know him by his hands but how am i a child and this wall against my back how long has it been a wall my father follows me handsome as a close friend a tree in bloom I built a room to hold him he picks all the locks I scream don't scream I run stand still I am a forest field I crumble and shift I wake my breath deep inside the earth this is right all right I read this poem about going to therapy everyone should go if you are going consider it which i think is right little box the woman you love is afraid she is hurting you this is the source of her fear you are afraid to say I am hurting you are crying you are afraid your parents will discover that you were crying again and send you again to therapy where a woman with long hair and a long skirt will point to the doll house and ask where the mother doll sleeps and the father and did they have a child where the child doll sleeps you speak in therapy every statement begins I feel even when you mean why are you hurting me you'd rather be a simpler animal you tried to imagine what the bear feels the seal the otter always a little group of three you worry they are not in fact simpler but you are sure they are never lonely you hate your loneliness as you hated yourself as a child you were bored with your hatred you want her to stop hurting you you want to say I love you again and again this will change nothing and you've already said it when you are a child in therapy you understood where each doll went you learned not to cry there is no teacher now to tell your parents and anyway your mother doesn't remember you and you were settling into hating your father though you are afraid you're as careless and cruel as they taught you to be you will see your therapist in two weeks her hair is short and she is from the same city as the woman you love you will tell her you are sad and hurting you will be matter-of-fact you will think of the seal a mother perhaps how she might be lonely for a lost pup but there will be another and she will forget the one that was eaten by an orca or polar bear or neglect you will tell your therapist none of this you will no longer speak to the woman who has your heart you will put her in the room farthest away from your own she will sleep where the father should be and this is the last poem that I'll read from from the book I think that's right I just like saying I think that's right yeah I don't know yeah what's going on all right love palm Tanika this is a spring of shambles of Meadows slow to flower a fire setting the underbrush and love I am lonely as a bear I am no good at bearish things fish are forage my hands are too small and slow to clip the salmon thick in the heat of spawn I do not know where berries are or honey or campers or the greening branch I am tired of mounting this hill alone love how do I gain what was lost in winter so three new poems that feel a little bit tricky that I do enjoy reading and so they're from a new project we'll see I don't know if it's more than that but it's something it seems to be a thing danique Oh questions the Oracle who hid my dad in the mountain impoverished where he would remain invisible and rationed not on milk and honey but on baloney and saltines until he grew strong enough to kill the father which father do I mean his daddy exiled for the rest of his diabetic days to a closet in a house with no power no water where my dad his sisters and his brothers caught for a time by the crack rock and the pipe lighting up and the dark lived surely not his daddy Oracle surely not how long was he the youngest how long was he a child what God swallowed him whole the God perhaps who split his mother into our took his brother with a bullet from another father's gun in the sunlight in the afternoon did he really hold his dying brother's hand Oracle the brother who wanted only an apology on my dad's behalf who held him when his mother died who told him of the heaven were dead mothers and brothers go oh the pigeons what the pigeons Oracle that he tend them watched them rise from the roof of the house with no power or water but a daddy in a closet his sisters and brothers flaring in the rock light did he delight in their return the pigeons I mean did he ever delight Oracle in anything a child might did he look for his name in the sky did he ride a bike made from junk parts in the South Central LA Sun fast as a boy might surely he did that Oracle surely that and when he rose like an improbable stone from the father's gut whichever father I mean here whichever father makes sense the siblings the pigeons his daddy and exile his name in the sky when he rose with the stone of himself and his hand covered in bile and mucus free now of someone more powerful than the child he surely once was did he know the terrible thing he would become so Pegasus had a sibling and that sibling was either a winged boar this is what gets me it's the either it's either her it's like why don't they know a winged boar or a golden giant and if it's the golden giant then the golden giant goes on to father Jiraiya gnorga Ryan the red monster that had the cattle that and Heracles murdered him and stole the cattle right so there's like a there's a lot going on there I just don't like those things aren't the same it's really the point here portrait of my father is a winged boar when his mama dies in a wreck from her open body Springs my dad whose name I refused to say as he refuses his father a half-known man who sired him in the dry L a light the boy my dad turns so that he is caught one way a winged boar another a giant gold blade of a man both high scold thick maned a juvenile without a sounder a boy without a mother he recognizes himself only in the man carves himself into golden armor but the rutting fact of him the curved tooth the thick neck and beating wings trembles beneath his skin whatever she in the California Sun burnished is out of his body whatever good work his thickening hand compels whatever woman he touches in the afternoon on the roof he cannot deny his firstborn his red fledgling her many heads and hands what he makes for her a junk bike she loves cattle read in the field a mirror a red wreckage of her body and this is the last poem so I want to thank y'all for here for your attention tonight brood my chest is earth I meant to write my chest is warm but earth will do to exhume a heart beat I meant to write brief did you know I was alive the whole time I was alive in the ground but torpor torpor slowed beat my chest filled like a jar with dirt I mean dearth for slow months at rest in the hole I'd made and myself a frozen ground a ground and thaw I mean spring is coming I mean I pushed the wet dirt with my mandible I mean jaw jaw y'all I know I am NOT an imp and exhumation but would you please explain this half-remembered light thank you [Applause] that's like y'all already know about Patricia Smith then you know that she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize this year just this week announced so it must be must be a great week for Patricia but it's a great week for people who adore and read poetry as we here do and so the 2018 kingsley Tufts award is awarded to the indefatigable patricia smith for her book incendiary art the novelist Marlon James reading it calls it the fire this time and indeed her book is made out of the smoldering narratives of American history urgently told with visceral sonic mastery as you'll hear the poems are one after the other a fire with grief and rage but more than that they give us ways to reimagine the a historical narrative that so many Americans tragically cling to no page of the calendar of our history goes unread and Patricia Smith's work and in this book for that reason the book movingly addresses not only our past but what is happening around us right now and yet it transcends the grimness of the news it forcefully re articulates black lives matter most she writes when they are in motion please join me in welcoming Patricia Smith [Applause] it has been a very good week I want to thank Clermont everyone affiliated with the kingsley and the thing that I've taken note of most in the last few days is this sense of being um being asked to join this family I mean there's a there's a lineage I was just looking at the poster over here so many poets that I know in love and Laurie keeps saying come back come back come back and I really feel like I fit into this circle of arms now and I really am appreciative that because we don't get much of that I am going to one of the major movements in incendiary art I'm always telling my students to listen for the voice that they're not hearing and one of the voices that I didn't hear very much the voices of mothers whose children sons and daughters had been murdered many times but not always at the hands of the police so I tried to put as much of that mother's voice into the book as I could so I'm going to read um the first segment of the poem sagas of the accidental sink and also afterwards a couple of the cases that you'll hear and I try to address these cases from the mother's point of view I don't expect you'll recognize my voice I don't believe this saga I've suppressed will ever sound familiar I am just a stooped and accidental saint no choice except to strain the limits of my throat I am the mama weep beneath the fold that paragraph you skip the wink of gold inside a rotted mouth that shredding note of grief excuse what's inexcusable in me the shifting wildfire tinted weave my ankles blue with fluid how I grieve in gospel you can't clutch a fusible display of double negatives I spew whenever someone says my child is gone and then goes on to pile the blame upon my child for being gone or maybe you believe the wretched mess is rightly traced right back to me whose body housed the crime my daughter out of dollars out of time my son just seeking ways to be erased so many ways they stride into the line of gunfire tease the trigger craved the shot just living through their days as if they're not about to die he stalks the paper bag of wine or tussles laughing with his kid or rolls a joint or asked his boo to braid his hair while lazing on the stoop or dares to glare when someone shows she fights against the holes around her throat or someone looks the same as someone else or sits inside her car or someone else's car or leaves ajar a door she should have closed he plays a game of hoops to clear his head or doesn't raise his hands or raises them or doesn't stop or does or when commanded fails to drop his wallet keys or phone he sets ablaze a heap of trash somebody's car or store while shouting slogans meant to make you care that he's alive she's killed if she's not there although she said she'd be or there before she should have been or on her way to work or coming home not walking like she should not walking down the street she normally would he walks too close behind you have to jerk your purse out of the way you pawned the mace he passes spitting lirik vile and blue not giving damns that he's offending you all you can remember is his race you asked him to succumb he dares decline the situation quickly falls apart a weapons raised to line up with his heart because he feels entitled to his spine she fumbles in her pocket for some change or jumps to a train turnstile on a dare she mumbles like her mind is not all there or titters in a way you think is strange he wrecks his Chevy ways for help he calls the nine the one the one he's waiting wrong the folks around him said he didn't belong he coughs or sneezes looks away he brawls with brothers sisters father wife he waives a Walmart toy or he can't find his place in line he laughs too loud he can't retrace his steps he droops his pants he misbehaves she turns her back or whirls around or could be packing could be wanted could be strong enough to snap your neck she moves all wrong he wanders into someone else's hood in colors that he struggles to explain he prances strides he's plotting an escape he stops and spins on you he's here to rape your daughter or he scoffs when you complain about his smell he crafts a sign he parks behind your Chevy thrusts his massive fist into or through the air he wakes up pissed but right on time then smokes a blunt or ox his bow when someone asks you good he waits his turn or takes a break he takes a leak he frightens everyone with his physique the situation's bound to escalate so many ways they're asking not to be she's wearing out her welcome being black with no one asked her to you've seen her lack of grace the space she occupies her glee when chicken weed or welfare checks roll in he goes to class he graduates he takes the seat right next to you his shoulder makes you quake inside you simply don't know when he'll blow she Shops beneath the winking eye of video but then pays with a card that can't be hers his chest and arms are scarred with scrape and blood tattoos so why untie the noose shaped like his neck his clothes are blue or red he wants your job he sculpt your wife he craves your home your cash your life that textbook in his hands not fooling you she hawks and spits she bets for change she blows a harp she blows through blow she blows her chance a victim yet again of circumstance he's fighting back but everybody knows that he's too coarse too dumb to street too black too dense to doomed too thick too much of those too vicious pose too quick to come to blows too likely he could spark your heart attack he flares his nostrils hides his hands he flees without explaining why she lifts she steals she swipes she grabs she snatches cuts a deal he stumbles trips you chips a wire he sees too much she needs too much he feels too much her skins too mud his skins too light he fights too dirty fights for breath the savage Knights are huge with him the voodoo in his touch he shoots himself all handcuffed to a pole or hangs himself while hanging from a tree or rings his neck although his hands aren't free he always seems to fail at self-control he's monster ogre he's the looming threat insisting he didn't do that thing he did denying that she'd hidden what she hid confusing you by getting so upset he claims he's innocent he files a case he lives too large too long he must believe that he is white or free he's so naive with every step he takes he falls from grace he steps inside her out or through or down she bellows jumps or hisses struts or spins he stalks the street steps off a curb his sin should be enough to drive him out of town where he'd be out of sight and out of mind and out of bounds but thankfully not out of range and if you think he's all about the kill the drops the guns and gangster grind you know for sure as soon as you see me his mama grieving ugly wailing bout my child my child and plucking Jesus out of every bag you just can't see why he deserves such stupid love my wailing thrust each lord have mercy on my baby's soul my sad theatrics as my child goes cold and then the hungry cameras readjust my howls until it's not my child who's dead but something feral edged in leaked a threat to shrubbery and sundaes while he's wet and seeping into Street they frame his head and mine inside a single shot and ask my nappy hair and bulging eyes just what I think I keen implode on cue they cut the camera back to frame the blood it mask and splay you don't remember what I say or hear his name but you are borderline obsessed with my collapse my crumpled wine and Holy Ghost did flail the matinee of Mama you are entertained until you aren't and then I'm just an open mall a blur and tongue you shouldn't waste your all on my Unleashed display of overkill enjoy the blackest bruiser dripping bile the spittle spewing me still bellowing my lord my lord why would you let this thing disrupt your day I disappear and while I'm relegated to an antidote on way to nothing all you can recall is sputtered gospel whoa and Carter wha that corpse the tightened wire around my throat that's my son collapsed there my son crumpled there my son lined there my son positioned there my daughter repositioned there my daughter as exhibit a there my daughter dumped over there my son hidden away there my son blew there my son dangling there my son caged there my daughter on the gurney there on the slab there in the drawer there my daughter splayed there my son locked down there my son hanging over there my son bleeding out there my son growing frigid there my daughter deposited there my son inside the choc there my daughter being bagged there my son on the slab there my son crushed there my son rearranged there my son crumpled in the door there my daughter's neck shrinking in the Neuse there my son's left-eye over there my son as Exhibit B there my son behind the wheel there my son under the wheels there my son slumped over the wheel there my son my daughter blooded and not moving in the doorway on the stoop down the block in front of her kids just inside the barbershop facedown in the street outside the bodega inside the bodega in the back alley behind the bodega on the videotape a block from home leaving home hanging out at home in the schoolyard on the blacktop in his bed in her kitchen in my arms in my arms in my are that's my son shot to look Doug that's my daughter shot to look more animal shot is kill shot as prey shot as Conquest shot a solution shot has lessened shot as warning shot as comeback shot as payback shot for support shot for history that's my son being alive anymore there that's my child coming to rest one layer beneath the surface of the rest of my life there [Applause] august 19 2014 st. Louis Missouri khadeem Powell 25 was accused of shoplifting donuts and energy drinks police said the mentally disturbed man approached with a knife in an overhand grip they shot him dead 15 seconds after they arrived video shows that Powell's hands were at his side I am the mother of the darkest magician his thousand limbs thrash in and out of your practice sight line he is always behind beside and in front of you he lunges for your neck while whistling on a side street three blocks away firepower throbs and every finger of his bound and idle hands no matter where he is he is the leading man in the stuttering convenience store video if he is not there he will be if he hasn't he is about to if a blades not in his hand it's in his hand if his hands are up there clawing through his pockets for something if he's screeching don't shoot he's clearly saying please I'm tired help me fall down March 3rd 2014 Iberia Parish Louisiana police say that Victor white the 3rd 22 shot himself while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser November 19 2013 Durham North Carolina police say that hey seize her Etta 17 shot himself while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser July 29th 2012 Jones Jonesboro Arkansas police say that Chavez Carter 21 shot himself while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser he reefs back and found his own hands with his own hands worked his bound fingers to set his free fingers loose then use that shackled hand to free the other shackled hand and the free shackled hand still shackled was still bound to the other hand once both were free once free in the shackles the shackled hand turned to the matter of the gun which couldn't be there because they searched my baby twice and a gun is a pretty big thing unless it isn't unless it is dreamed alive by hands that believe they are no longer shackled stunned in cuffs but free and searching the left and right hands found a gun with a stink like voodoo a gun that couldn't have been there wasn't there but was the left handed him used a cuffed hand which could have either been left or right since both were free to root around for a trigger and fire a bullet right into his left handed head impossible but not really since the preferred killing hand may have preferred its shackles the policeman who had searched my baby twice and cuffed both his free and unfree hands behind his back before his hands found his own hands and pulled her no human sounds at all during all that frantic magic no damn if my boy struggles to get his left shackled hand to do what his right shackled hand wouldn't do no frenzied pound of one bracing foot against the door no grunt or whoop of glee to mark all those times he slipped out of custody and in again but they did hear the bang of the gun the gun that wasn't there but was just when it sent that bullet into the right side of his left handed head sounds like sacrifice they thought slumped eyes cocked and undone my child was amazed at the sweet hoodoo he had managed both left and right hands were shackled and free behind him there was an eerie perfect circle of smoke in his hair suicide both said at the very same time and since it was odd how they had reached the same conclusion they smiled and shook their heads noting the shackles they praised their God in the light of miracle while the boy who couldn't have done what he did but did bled down to zero guess he couldn't take it one of the alive said to the other he didn't mean wearing the shackles he meant not wearing them it's just two more of these March 12 2012 Pasadena California Kendrick McDade 19 was chased and shot seven times by two police officers after a 911 falsely reported being robbed at gunpoint by two black men mcdhh aides final words were why did they shoot me as the moon tangled its beams and grew monstrous over his body he wanted that answer as usual I arrived too late he had already dispersed and become an awkward our son of the mother of mistake his timing and route or ask you but because walk but because upright because Africa because decision because Tuesday because loaded gun because running because to black because identified because uniform because breathless because unable because America because yo mama because Mississippi because uniform because obama because the chase because unarmed because convenient because mistaken because threatened because ritual because no one will miss you because no one will miss you because no no one will because beast because innocent because they could because they could because they could because they I usually give my boys names anyone couldn't remember scapegoat target perp-walk the name kendrick so squashed his potential he should have been victim identified bullseye how about accident perfect I never had children just had accidents September 14th too thirteen Bradfield farms North Carolina after being involved in a traffic accident Jonathan Farrell 24 knocked on the door of a nearby house for help the woman inside called the police they arrived and shot him ten times my son said I just had an accident I need to use the phone she said you're black my son said it'll only take a minute I need to call the police she heard call the police my son said I know it's late but I just had an accident she said 9-1-1 he said okay then you'll call 9-1-1 she said you're black the police said is he black she said he's black when the gun arrived it said I just had an accident the gun said I just had an accident the gun said I just had an accident the gun said I just an accident the gun said I just had an accident the gun said I just had an accident the gun said I just had an accident gun said I just had an accident the gun said I just had an accident the gun said I just had an accident once I put this baby in the ground I'm ready This Means War Geneva read veal mother of Sandra bland addressing the congregation at Johnson Philip all faiths church Prairie View Texas I don't expect you'll recognize my voice no matter that I populate your world with demons and obstructions dangerous assumptions I am the mother of the hung her pistol-whipped the missed it head the hands that found the hands the tasered crazy girl and all the magic real that you can stand I thought perhaps I'd let you see that I am flesh and bone and pulse that in the night I wailed with wanting them and yes I know I entertain you digitized my break and fall rewound replayed and tapped but now I fight my own collapse that ugly twist of grief that makes you laugh here to say their bodies weren't at war with you I'm here to say their bodies weren't at war with you you just say their wars were in their bodies and the battlefield was always yours was always yours was all thank you I don't have words Danita but your should would you please stand up again I'm going to give you one more round of applause I told just the best thing we do so thank you very much for being here we have a reception outside and I know that we will want to mingle and I know you get a chance to speak to Patricia and Anika and thank you again good night [Applause]

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