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Bodies for Bullets

By Denise Miller

Author’s note: I wrote this poem to highlight the continued and deadly disregard for female bodies and brown bodies. The italicized sections however have been taken directly from the Declaration of Independence. Please feel free to add the names of others who have been killed and then copy and paste and repost the poem. Audre Lorde said, “Our labor has become more important than our silence.” This poem is a part of my labor. I am sick of silence. #sos

Artwork by Denise Miller

Artwork by Denise Miller

That wasn’t government; it was finger on trigger. Men done played
god with a lotta my figure, poured out policy on a lot of my figure,
so much they bottled it, built a plantation they called democracy
& put a president in it. We in a lottery sister for the life of our figure.
They pickin up white stones and stone walling a lot of our sisters.

I’ve taught history to students with not one apology in it, left out
things like: “I’m sorry, so and so, but they were just trying to prosper,
it’s not their fault – the system was set up so they had to be the ones
who bought her. I mean after Jefferson laid with Sally, how could we
expect him to claim that daughter? After all, she was a slave and he was

the founding father.” But why can’t we be outraged by that kind of slaughter?
Since 1609 they traded all kinds of women and girls, the current reproductive
laws trade women and girls, the skin of women and girls, is traded for this flag
they unfurl to cover the sins that shame all our women & girls. Listen, they
are framing our women & girls for murder, sitting on benches with 11 other

henchmen who have the power to curse her— sayin things like: “Justice Thomas,
I know that you heard her. She wants to have the right to decide so we must decide
for her. So they dipped tongue tips in silver, wielded them like bullets and bullseyed
through the center of the first amendment, reminding us yet again that our founding
fathers never had their minds on us. Just their hands. So let’s watch as they hand out

“justice” in exchange for what they often force on and into our bodies, lets watch as they deputize racism, and arm it with bullets to legally tattoo and slay our & our brothers bodies.

The ballot or the bullet is the bull they exchange for our bodies. Got us thinking the click of our pen is a strong as the click of their trigger. Got us believing a system set up to own us will be our bullet-proof vest. They own the math and the tests but I’ll add up the figures:

55 delegates who became our founding fathers adds up to 55 pens who legalized murder
and ratified slaughter when they put guns in the hands of those who would other. Their indictment of George III could read like the sound track to what they’d like to be the silent film of their history of slaughter. American History, take 1. & action:

Scene 1: “He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.”  =’s The Indian Removal Act, the Trail of Tears, the disenfranchisement of women, Slavery, the Danziger Bridge Shooting & the Stand Your Ground Act to act as a hood to cover white men’s fears.

Scene 2: “He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the Lives of our people.” =’s Rosewood burning, Detroit burning, Mississippi burning, Los Angeles burning, Chicago burning, Ferguson burning & the levies broken.

Scene 3: “He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. He has constrained our fellow Citizens …… to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.” =’s every war or conflict waged by this land of the free home of the brave.

Scene 4: “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us….” =’s Rosewood burning, Detroit burning, Mississippi burning, Los Angeles burning, Chicago burning, Ferguson burning, our hearts burning.

Let the credits roll:

Unarmed Kimani Gray shot in the back and killed by police officers on location at New York City

Unarmed Kendrec Mcdade shot and killed by police officers on location at Pasadena, Calif

Unarmed Tarika Wilson shot and killed by police officers on location in her home while holding her 1-year-old baby in her arms at Lima, Ohio

Unarmed Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams shot 137 times and killed by police officers on location in their car in Cleveland, Ohio

Unarmed Aiyana Jones Seven-year-old shot and killed by police officers on the couch while watching TV in her house on location at Detroit, Michigan

Unarmed Ervin Jefferson shot and killed by police officers on location outside his Atlanta home

Unarmed Miriam Carey shot and killed by police officers on location at the capitol in Washington, D.C.

Unarmed Amadou Diallo shot and killed by police officers on location on the stoop of his New York City building

Unarmed Patrick Dorismond shot and killed by police officers on location at a station of their choosing

Unarmed Sharmel Edwards shot and killed by police officers while she exited the car with her hands up and unarmed on location at Las Vegas, Nevada

Unarmed Ousmane Zongo shot and killed by police officers on location in NY City

Unarmed Rekia Boyd shot and killed by police officers on location in a park in March 2012 during an evening hanging out with her friends at Chicago, Illinois

Unarmed Timothy Stansbury Jr. shot and killed by police officers on location n a Brooklyn, N.Y. stairwell

Unarmed Yvette Smith shot and killed by police officers on location at Bastrop, Texas

Unarmed Sean Bell shot and killed by police officers on location at Queens, NY

Unarmed Orlando Barlow shot and killed by police officers on location on his knees by two Los Vegas police officers

Unarmed Aaron Campbell shot and killed by police officers on location officers Allan Corrales and George Diego in Los Angeles

Unarmed Victor Steen shot and killed by police officers on location riding his bike in Pensecola, California

Unarmed Alonzo Ashley shot and killed by police officers on location at the Denver Zoo

Unarmed Wendell Allen shot and killed by police officers on location in his home in New Orleans

Unarmed Ronald Madison And James Brissette shot and killed by police officers on location at the Danziger Bridge, New Orleans

Unarmed Travares Mcgill shot and killed by police officers on location in Sanford, FL

Unarmed Ramarley Graham shot and killed by police officers on location n the bathroom of his grandmother’s Bronx, N.Y., home

Unarmed Oscar Grant shot and killed by police officers on location on a train platform on New Year’s Day in Oakland, California

Unarmed Michael Brown shot and killed by police officers on location on his way to his grandmother’s house in Ferguson, Mo.–a suburb just outside of St. Louis.

And Scene


 

Denise Miller, born in Martins Ferry, Ohio, and raised in Cadiz, Ohio, is a Kalamazoo Valley Community College instructor, artist, poet, and community activist. She received a BFA from Bowling Green State University in Creative Writing in 1992 and an MA from Central Michigan University in 1995. Her work has also been funded by an Emerging Artists Grant from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo and the Gilmore Foundation. Miller is co-owner of Fire—an arts and culture non-profit in Kalamazoo that has as its mission to encourage and respond to people’s desire for authentic expression. Fire reflects Miller’s belief that social and cultural awareness generate and sustain social justice. Miller believes that it is the poet’s job to tell the truth no matter what the cost. Visit her website at www.makedo.weebly.com.

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