Andrew Golden/Highlander
Andrew Golden/Highlander

American Progress by Alexander Wilson Jr.

Black Lives Matter
When these cops start shooting
ALL these Black Lives shattered
Black People can’t have anything
In a country that they were forced to give everything
Once more,
Black People can’t have anything
In a country that they were forced to give everything
Lynched, Beaten, Dismembered, Killed, Ridiculed, Degraded, Disrespected, Dehumanized…
It’s a long list huh
Makes you feel uncomfortable when you ponder on why America likes us dumb
See, I believe, in American Progress
Me and my comrades are fighting each day in America so poetry is my healing process
These cops running around claiming they’re the law, but act so lawless
So I don’t plan on staying quiet, I’m gonna speak the truth and be honest
Progress in America to white people has already been achieved
Because we have a Black Man in the White House so what else do we need
All we do is complain about how we don’t have stuff
And white people turn the other cheek and say “Life’s rough”
My brothers and sisters we can’t rely on our country no more
I am just as American as the blonde-haired, blue-eyed white male that I walk by in the street but that kills America to its core
Because this country was not made for us and never was supposed to be for us
Ironic how our forefathers had the privilege to use the word “equality” when they were slaveowners
America will brainwash us no more because with our minds we are the owners
We will read the books they never included in our syllabus
We will call them out on their dirty lies and continuous bullshit
Let it ring true, like it did in 1492, that if you’re black or brown- America isn’t for you
See, I believe, in American Progress
How through all the trials we’ve been put through, we are still here today
We will continue to populate and spread our greatness everyday
But my people, my black, brown, yellow, red, blue and green beautiful people
American Progress is recognizing the truth
American Progress is not only attacking the head while forgetting the roots
Our problems stem from America’s unjust foundation
On the corrupt lies that we promote liberty, justice, and equality for all in the nation
See, I believe, in American Progress
Where despite our varying skin tones and ethnicities we can all succeed
Where ALL people have the right to choose their own destiny
Where chains of restraint and oppression don’t stop us from being free
Once we embark on that day,
American Progress will be achieved
We’re not there yet, but one day, we will be.

The Red Ball by Diego Xocoyotzin Romero

I remember the red ball bouncing on the school yard asphalt always taking the same course past the jungle gym. I remember never kicking it anywhere else but there. I would spend the entire recess and lunch kicking the ball, chasing it, then kicking it back to where it previously was. Yet I had no interest in the ball itself. It was simply a means to an end for me, a method, an excuse to pass by the jungle gym so that I may pass near her. The girl in the yellow pigtails who chatted with her little entourage. For months I would kick the red ball past them or if I was feeling bold which to my memory only happened on two occasions would kick it towards them, and when one of them picked it up I would try to charmingly ask for it yet my request always came out meek and my tell-tale stutter would kick in. My face would then glow bright red in the otherwise gray school yard and upon being given the red ball I would mutter a small thanks and scamper away. At that point I would cease my flirtatious activities and hide of shame and embarrassment for a few days by an oak tree on the other side of the school yard. Yet my determination always won me over and I would return from exile to resume playing with my red ball.

Words were never exchanged between her and I, although once or twice as I perused my fickle wingman as it rolled away from me, I looked up and our eyes met. Yet this was short-lived for I would quickly avert my gaze and continued chasing my plaything with my short legs. My cheeks would grow hot with embarrassment as adrenaline pumped through my small body, causing my hands to tremble in the thin October fog. I would wonder as I ran, if by some miracle of God she would continue to stare at me after I had averted my gaze. The thought that her eyes may still look upon me caused me to walk as I thought James Bond did, with authority and confidence. I would puff my chest out as I approached the red ball and hold my head high. I would then pick it up in a slow motion as if I was in an action movie and her eyes were the camera that I played for. I would dress like James Dean, Orlando Bloom, or the Backstreet Boys, or whoever it was that I thought she would fawn over. I would try my hand at singing, drawing, running, and writing, anything that would make me stand out anything that would make me more than just the boy with the bouncy red ball. Yet in the end all I could do was continue to chase after it.

Every day for 158 days until the day she moved away I would bounce that red ball and every day at 12:00 I would return it to its small cage with its brothers and there it would wait for me to arrive the following day. Until on the 159th day it stayed in its small cage untouched, used up, tired, and dusty it had lost its daily playmate, just as I had lost my childish aspirations of love.

Touch by Anuja Shukla

You have this age-old confidence about you,
How not even a breeze can break you down.

You have this sharp way about you,
It’s like a disease trapped in a town.

I told you to come inside,
What’s mine is yours.

But you just shook your head,
And played with your friends,
And had the moon dance to your vision.

But that vision was corrupted,
Like a bee stealing honey.

You have this way about you,
That left me feeling.