Don't Run (a poem)

Don’t run

When you run, they think you’re running for a reason. You might not have a reason to run, only fear of their authority, fear of their guns. But don’t run

At the end of the month, when the cops are filling out arrest quotas, you look like a jackpot. Like a promotion. Don’t move when they pull out their guns. Don’t run.

Don’t think of family, don’t think of a future, don’t think: what are they taking me for? Don’t talk back. Don’t question the gun. Don’t run.  

Don’t have a prior record. Don’t fall behind on child support payments. Don’t give the undercover officer an unlicensed gun. Don’t run.

Don’t wave a toy gun at people in a public place. If you must be a child who didn’t know that, don’t be a precociously tall one. Don’t sell loose cigarettes. Don’t have an asthma attack when you’re in a chokehold. They will kill a child with a toy gun. Don’t run.

Don’t wear a hoodie in a white neighborhood. Don’t be above six feet. Don’t wear your pants too low. Don't respond to the drunk white people and their racist taunts at the bar. Don’t look like someone who committed a robbery down the block. Don’t be a threat. Don’t run from police who don’t know the difference between a taser and a gun. Don’t run.

Don’t ask for medical assistance if they hurt you on the way to the station. Don’t try to breathe, they’ll say “fuck your breath.” Don’t throw stones, there’s a camera on the car. There's a camera in the air. Don't just be riding your bike. Don’t hold up your phone, it might look like a gun. Don’t run.

You ran anyway. (Truth is, I would too.) And now they’re chasing you down. This video is now evidence, this is on YouTube. At the end of a blind alley, with no place else to run. A rush of adrenaline, there's a camera and a gun. Don't run.

1 comment:

Vincent Walsh said...

Deep, this poem captures the essence of the African American experience in U.S. ghettos; it's almost like saying, don't dare trying to live a decent or normal life, don't even dare trying to breathe. Whatever move you make (or refuse to make) could well be the wrong move, could get you shot, could get you jail time, could get you beaten within an inch of your life, just because your skin is black, just because you're at the bottom of the social-darwinist pecking order. Young black men and women (along with not-so-young black men and women) residing in the hood in U.S. inner-cities are treated by U.S. security forces pretty much the same way Palestinians are treated by Israeli occupying forces in Gaza and the West Bank.