“Feeling Fucked Up” by Cortney Lamar Charleston

Cortney Lamar Charleston


after Etheridge Knight

for Walter Scott

Lord, they done did the damn deed again          took him out
like          POOF like ace          BOOM           COON like          WAP like
motherfucker          he might’ve been kin you know? like          I’m saying
neither of us can          could          run for shit            guess a cop’s shot ain’t
gotta be worth spit if he gets eight of them damn          just ate shrimp
now          it’s everywhere          it’s dark outside my window America
is everywhere look          this brother ain’t coming back none of them
coming back turn yours on a coward          they’ll prove who they really
are          scared of          is you telling me I went four long-ass days
without knowing he died          that I got my tail light fixed the same
damn day he faded out in broad daylight after getting stopped
for a broken tail light?          did I drop $275 just to keep living my
got-damned life?!          I got work in the a.m.          but what for? who
I’m feeding? Walter Scott have kids or not? they caught them
bastards on tape          planting the taser          next to a body
handcuffed to its own color          to lifelessness itself          motherfucker
I can’t even          I need a woman          to hold me tonight a good
woman like she would bury me with her own hands good if
I bit the bullet kicked the bucket of blood over I          need Jesus
some Kanye College Dropout           tonight I          really need
some liquor          for them to stay outta my face with all
their oh my God! every day they kill my God just a little bit
more believe that my brother          it took a camera for all
y’all to believe this was possible but          why?          still ain’t enough
why?         my background check          clean like          tabula rasa like you
can be white on black          and free black on anything and
dead in jail for life           sick dopeness          I got it don’t worry          fuck it
I got it          cable news is gonna have field days with this one
and the next          man fuck that          if I’m being completely honest

fuck every Facebook “like” on that video fuck every share
and stock that goes up tomorrow fuck the NRA fuck elephants
and donkeys and trees fuck all the primaries and the general
fuck another White House press conference fuck every
bald-headed bird in the sky fuck “democracy” fuck oligarchy
fuck racism fuck sexism fuck heterosexism fuck classism fuck
the police state fuck law and order if that’s what it takes
fuck the drug of war fuck the war on drugs fuck good
people going quiet fuck pure evil fuck the part of me that wants to
forget fuck forgetting fuck not forgetting fuck death fuck my life
fuck every single thing in sight till we all make it all          right.

Poets Respond
April 12, 2015

[download audio]


Cortney Lamar Charleston: “Forgive my language in this poem, as I typically try to steer away of cussing too much, but hopefully you can understand where I’m coming from with this one. After all, is that not what poetry is: a hopeful act no matter how blue? That being said, it deeply saddens me to witness yet another black person being killed due to use of excessive and/or negligent force on the part of law enforcement, particularly because the images of this have been projected across so many media outlets—it really is traumatic to witness as a black person, and is just one in a long list of entries of black and brown bodies killed without real (or good) reasons why. But I suppose to some people, the Scott video is as enlightening as it is shocking. It shows that not all dark-skinned ‘suspects and assailants’ were always ‘reaching for the cop’s gun’ or ‘reaching for his taser’ or ‘reaching for a weapon,’ which is the typical script that is continuously repeated in these incidents (it was here as well, until the video proved otherwise). Perhaps, as an exercise, it would benefit us all to ask ourselves if the victims feared for their lives at the hands of officers, as we hear that often in the other direction already (as in this case, before the video surfaced). We need to ask why that seems so plausible, if we truly believe in this nation, deep down, that black and brown people are all a criminal element until proven ‘decent.’ We need to ask ourselves how un-American our conceptions of certain groups of people are. We need not to run from this. We need to face it. If we agree that ‘all lives matter,’ then we consequently need to believe ‘black lives matter.’ The first statement necessitates the second, and if you don’t believe the latter to be true, or you attempt to downplay it, then you do disservice to the former, unintentionally or not.” (website)

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