“KNEEL: An Athem,” by Charlotte Watson Sherman

O say can you

Si se puede

I am the woman

who will not bow down

but kneel;

will not seal her eyes

IMG_0227
Photo: S.L. Wisenberg, Manhattan

 

but stay woke.

Photo: S.L. Wisenberg, Chicago
Photo: S.L. Wisenberg, Chicago
moe casa
Photo: Moe Zoyari, Chicago

Can you see

there are jackboots & torches outside the door?

Swastikas & AmeriKLan hoods?

Help me pry up the floorboards of this safe house.

Photo: S.L. Wisenberg, Manhattan
Photo: S.L. Wisenberg, Manhattan

 

We are all under attack.

acm linc
Photo: Linc Cohen, Chicago

 

“Black. Queer. Trans. Jew.

Photo: S.L. Wisenberg, Chicago
Photo: S.L. Wisenberg, Chicago

 

I deserve equal rights &

refugees & immigrants do too.”

Photo: Andrew Reilly, Chicago
Photo: Andrew Reilly, Chicago

 

Adorned in coronas of kink

we march through roadways,

Photo: Andrew Reilly, Chicago
Photo: Andrew Reilly, Chicago

 

block traffic

beating drums

blowing whistles

chanting,

Photo: David Horton, Boston

 

“No ban. No wall. Sanctuary for us all.”

Photo: Andrew Reilly, Chicago

 

O

I.C.E. I.C.E. baby

Can you see this irreparable harm?

Photo: Toni Nealie, Chicago
Photo: Toni Nealie, Chicago

 

The dismantling of the Constitution outside Terminal 4?

Photo: Kirstie Shanley, Chicago
Photo: Kirstie Shanley, Chicago

 

O cops

frozen inside your helmets

Photo: Moe Zoyari, Chicago
Photo: Moe Zoyari, Chicago

 

grasping batons

Hands up, don’t shoot!

Be humble. Sit down.

Photo: Moe Zoyari, Chicago
Photo: Moe Zoyari, Chicago

 

Now is the time to drop your weapon

Kneel with us on the tarmac & killing field

as we set our knees against the wheel

grinding our humanity to dust

Allah akbar

Can you see

us

Photo: S.L. Wisenberg, Manhattan

 

the soul of America?

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CharlotteWatsonShermanCharlotte Watson Sherman was born in Seattle, the eldest in a working class family. She has published poetry in Obsidian, The Black Scholar, Obsidian II, Painted Bride Quarterly, Permafrost, and Gathering Ground: New Writing and Art by Northwest Women of Color. KNEEL appeared in different form in the group exhibition, “Manifesto: A Modest Proposal,” at Pitzer College Art Galleries, Claremont, CA., January 20-March 29, 2018. Sherman has published a collection of short fiction, Killing Color (Calyx, 1992) and edited the anthology Sisterfire: Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry (HarperCollins, 1994). She’s also the author of other books from HarperCollins: the novels One Dark Body (1993) and touch (1995), and the children’s book Eli and the Swamp Man (1996). Her muse is history. The task of healing and reconciling the past propels the writing. Her tools: word, image, ritual, dream, magic.

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Referring photo on earlier page is by Moe Zayari, taken in Chicago.