Four Freedoms

When they got off their boats
in those first years, they had with them
worship, fear, and want. Used guns
and disease to spread what they’d brought
and cleared the land so their speech, theirs alone,
could ring out. You use what you have when you need
to run a genocide just to get by. 

They endlessly retell all their lovely myths
about how plantations ran, but in truth
fear and want and worship were made anew there
and no amount of speech can bind the wounds
from whip or rape.

Freedom of speech, freedom of worship,
freedom from want, freedom from fear.

They’ve declared themselves the default
so all those terms are theirs to define.

Which of their four freedoms
do you think they love the most? 

Which of their four freedoms
is most easily weaponized?

It’s not like they’ve ever stopped trying.
A prison here, a reservation there;
a blood quantum chant, a hypocrite anthem;
a redline, a voting line, a pipeline, a rope;
smug worship, suffocating want, cold-back fear;
speaking up is a gas worthy, gun worthy game to them. 

It’s not like they’ve ever stopped trying.
Mask-off sneering at the safety of others;
insistent demands for managers and cops;
churches set on fire, an ape with a Bible
offering fear to the terrified and want to the starving;
a border wall stabbed through the bones of silent ancestors.

Speak of new freedoms now:

freedom from their way of worship — 
how tiring it becomes to hear them speak of God
and show us nothing but the demonic;

freedom from their notion of speech
that makes heroes of their mythic killers
and tell us we never died at their hands;

freedom to want more than what they offer,
to want the return of things that they’ve stolen
and drained of meaning, turning them into mere style;

and as for freedom to fear? We see them holding that now;
gingerly, at last seeing how it feels (a little) not to be
in full hard control of their own story.


About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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