It rings with many sounds.
Late night car horns.
A woman’s screams.
The boasts of men.
The boasts of women.
A symphony of profanity.
It reflects misery, hopelessness, and decay.
Streets and sidewalks glitter with broken glass,
Boarded up homes, and unkempt yards.
Street corners overflowing with a lost generation,
a runway of chemical zombies.
The old generation struggles to maintain.
They struggle to regain the beauty and peace of yesterday.
They sweep. They paint.
They beautify with flowers and trees.
We all live here together.
This is the hood.
This is my neighborhood.
Distorted Body, Freed Soul
I came into this world as a beautiful creation.
With skin that resembled Mother Earth.
With hair like lamb’s wool.
With teeth as white as the whitest pearls.
With eyes that sparkle day and night.
With a body of strength and virility.
But as I mature…
My beauty fades.
My ski is bruised from the force of your fist
And the swing of your baton.
My back is perforated with holes
From your piercing bullets.
My pleading eyes are full of tears.
Yet, there is a part of me that you cannot destroy…
For God has called me home
And my soul has been set free at last.
No more struggle.
No more pain.
Dedicated to all Black Africans who have lost their lives in the struggle for freedom…yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Theresa Bowman Downing is the author of A Hard Head and Delayed Blessings: Poetry Reflecting the Life and Times of an African American Woman, which is available at Classics.