NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 18 Issue 3 - Fall 2018 - Page 102

poetry By Patricia Jabbeh Wesley They Killed a Black Man in Brooklyn Today —— A Dirge for Our Sons When my phone alerts me, I feel my belly button turning hot. My legs buckled and I could feel my own fingers trembling around the curves of my phone. Suddenly, I forget my son’s number. I forget the way to call my own son in Brooklyn. My mind tells me it cannot recall how to push the buttons so my Brooklyn black son can assure me that he is not dead. To be a black woman is to be a woman, ready to mourn. To be a black mother is to go to bed with your head halfway on your pillow. To be a black mother in America is to stand between night and day, waiting to see if the policeman will not kill your son today. They say a black man was shot in a city so populated by good black men they now must empty bullets into another black man. They say a policeman in Brooklyn has decided to shoot a black man because there was a suspect on the run or because he was holding up something or because he was taking something out of his own pocket or because he was just a black man. There should be no black men in Brooklyn if there is a suspect on the run. There should be no black men in America when there is a suspect on the run. A mother who gave birth to her son is wailing because there was a suspect on the run. Today, I saved the life of a scary doe that ran across my neighborhood road as if it knew the sound of tires, the sound of a passing car the sound of death, the sound a gun makes before it kills a black man, before it kills a black man in Brooklyn. But they say we must not count. And they say we do not count. One black man was killed today in Brooklyn, but on tv, there is no news. There is no news of the black man, killed in Brooklyn. On tv, white people are talking about white people. But somewhere all over America, a black man will be shot the way a black man was shot in Brooklyn. On tv, white people are talking about white problems. While a black man swallows a bullet. While a bullet swallows the life of a black man in America. in America, where we must stop our car so a squirrel can cross a busy highway. But another policeman in America has just killed another one of our sons in Brooklyn. When my phone finally remembers its own number, my son’s voice on the line sounds like I have won the lottery. But somewhere, a mother has just lost her son in Brooklyn. A policeman has just killed a black man in Brooklyn. Today, another black man, shot and killed