Troubled Past

They beat my body. Tore it up like rabid dogs. Their wide palms crumbled then crashed against the wide nose on my face. Boots tripped along my ribs in time. This aint nothin’ new. It happened in camps and cotton fields. Today they march on us in classrooms and on street corners any given morn. I cried out for my mama, for help, for God to come and ease my pain. But I deserved this ’cause they said I ain’t look right. I looked at her, looked angry, looked down, looked guilty. I shouldn’t have looked at all. Now my body is spread across the sidewalk.

They beat my body. Pierced it with burning metal. I was lost and confused. Headlights caught my eyes, moths drawn to a flame. Hands up! I stumbled forward in a daze, but the bullets put me in my place. No gentle nudges to set me right, but arrows to pin me down. But I deserved this ’cause I’m a bad dude. Now my body is a bruised summer plum dripping life.

They beat my body. Tossed it ’round like Sunday laundry. My face kissed the ground, then I was under it. Earthworms voiced my consciousness. The day before, my body met a chair and a floor and a wall and the inside of a van. But I deserved this ’cause of that time I was loud and all those bootlegs. Now my body has been properly pressed and folded. Now my body can be put away.

They beat my body. Took the life I had there and passed it ’round. I was fun, dancing in the fullness of my youth. I was looking for a good time, ’til they spread my legs a little bit. Me swimming in my tears while they laughed. But I deserved it ’cause I smiled too wide and laughed too loud. Now my body belongs to them.

Another one of us is beaten and before his body can heal, his past scrolls across my newsfeed. He deserved this ’cause…

This is the troubled past of my sistahs and brothas.

This is the troubled past of womanhood.

This is the troubled past of all Others.

[in response to United Airlines’ “re-accommodation” of Dr. David Dao]

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