Al Young title

Archive for December, 2014


Monday, December 8th, 2014



Hands Up Don't Shoot


Raina Leon
Raina León

a poem by Raina León

Somos en escrito: the latino online journal

 Margo Pepper, writer, for jacket cover.
Margot Pepper

a poem by Margot Pepper




Mike Brown autopsy released, showing he was shot 6 times


AY Sketch from Buskirk Pix


A prose-poem by Al Young

After the unionists, they arrested and took out the photojournalists. Attitude adjustment. I knew this was criminal. I didn’t shoot news footage. I kept my eyes and ears wide open.

Soon they came after the whistle-blowers. Yes, I was signifying, delivering the news slant, but I wasn’t blowing no whistles, no covers. I spread the word like leaves. I took note.

Then they came after the librarians, seeders; keepers and shelvers of harvested truth. Tree-conscious, I kept plenty of books and records, but ran no library. I nail-filed it all.

Next they rounded up physicists and chemists, biologists, paleoclimatologists, anthropologists, geneticists, meteorologists, cosmologists and shrinks. Horrified, I shrank. I freaked.

Then they taized down the artists, all the arts, where close-ups fill in details and show stuff like it is, when image and imagination hook up and take over. I cleared my throat. I groaned.

Finally it was my turn in the barrel. As dumb as they looked, they sneaked up on poetry. They caught up with me. I had no case. Others? They knew, like I know, there’s no such animal.

They never stopped coming after the rhinos for their tusks. They never stopped trashing elephants for their ivory. In fury they went hard at the the Earth herself, pumping, torturing and murdering her for dead fossil fuel and sleepless profit.

— © Al Young 2014


Jack and Adelle Foley

Written to the Facebook group, “Italian-Americans for a Just and Equal World.” A member of the group wrote this: “So, when do we discuss the big elephant in the room that Daniel Pantaleo, the cop who murdered Eric Garner, is Italian-American, and that many racist cops are Italian-American? And when do we write and post an apology to the black community?”

I’m half Italian and half Irish. Policemen on both sides of that. But you don’t have to be Italian or Irish to be racist: racism cuts across ethnic divisions. Being “Italian” didn’t mean you had to identify with Mussolini—or with what some Italians did to Mussolini. How “Italian” is Daniel Pantaleo—apart from the implications of his name? If he is racist, does his racism arise from his identification with “Italians” or from his identification with “whites”? I have argued that “white” is not an ethnic group: it has no traditions, no culture. But if it is not an ethnic group, what is it? I think the answer is that white is an indication of dominance. It is always involved at some level with what Kipling called “the white man’s burden.” “White” in this sense is an indication of power, or of the struggle for power, or of power’s lack. Insofar as one identifies with power, one is identifying “white”; insofar as one does not identify with power, one is not identifying “white.” Social climbing—wanting to be white—is not limited to Italians. This is an entry from the O.E.D. The writer is a ship’s captain; it is dated 1726: “There may be about 20,000 Whites (or I should say Portuguese, for they are none of the whitest,) and about treble that Number of Slaves.” Note that for this person, the Portuguese are not particularly “white”—“none of the whitest”—and that the rhetorical opposite of “Whites” is not “Blacks” but “Slaves.” “White” = power; the notion of “the white man” is an invention of power.    

I then posted my poem, “NYC”


Murder a black man and you can get away with it.
Murder a black man and you can get away with it.
There are no ambiguities here, no excuses.
Murder a black man and you can get away with it.

If you’re a policeman you can murder a man.
If you’re a policeman you can murder a man.
And you can go free you can go free.

If you’re a policeman you can murder a man.

The policeman says his job is to protect.
The policeman says his job is to protect.
To protect is the opposite of murdering someone.
The policeman says his job is to protect.

Murder a man and you can get away with it.
Murder a man and you can get away with it.
If you’re a policeman you can murder a man.
And you can go free you can go free

Even if the man tells you you are killing him, he can’t breathe

You can go free you can go free

— Jack Foley

©2014 Jack Foley


Majid Naficy

Majid Naficy


In Memory of Eric Garner

“I can’t breathe!
I can’t breathe!”
What a painful statement!
For the first time
I heard it from my own tongue.
I jumped from my sleep in panic
And ran toward my dad’s bedroom
He put my head
On his chest,
Caressed my face
And said: “Majid!
Be calm!
Be calm.”

Today I hear that statement
From the tongue of a black man on YouTube
Who is being choked
Held by a white policeman.
No one puts the black man’s head
On his chest,
Caresses his face
And says: “Eric!
Be calm
Be calm.”

Hundred years of slavery,
Hundred years of brutality
Press on the black man’s throat
And do not let White America
Hear his voice:
“I can’t breathe!
I can’t breathe!”

Majid Naficy

© 2014 Majid Naficy



Hank Johnson D-GeorgiaButton-Play-32x32Relive with Representive Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) the meaning and impact of the death by chokehold of Staten Island’s Eric Garner.