Blood Stains and Chains: Know Your Place

Today is the first day of Black History Month. I started to write something fresh for this entry, but I thought it would be neat to dig up some other pieces from Black History Month’s past and share them here.

So, for the first entry of this month, I offer the following poem from an old series I started a few years ago entitled Blood Stains and Chains. It could probably use some work, but here we go…

Know Your Place

Know where you’ve come from
to know where you’re going,
or doomed you could be to
repeat your failings.

Know your place, boy.
Do as you’re told,
if you want to live to be old.
Nonconformity of any kind has
no place in this time.

Know where you’ve come from
to know where you’re going.

Your voice is inconsequential,
unheard unless demanded.
Your needs are none.
You must do everything they require,
work until you are told you are done.

Know where you’ve come from
to know where you’re going.

Is there any difference this time around?
Even knowing where you’ve been
doesn’t tell you where to go.
Your fight is real, still as alive as you.
Knowing where you’ve been only learns you.
It doesn’t tell you where to go,
it is done, laid out behind you.
It is constructed like a tall tower,
stone slab stacked upon slab in all its solid ugliness
that gave way to the rise of its soft beauty.

You stand at the top of this tower now.
On the shoulders and broken backs of the souls
who built it. The mothers who bore the children of the
tower builders, those babies who continued building when
their fathers fell like autumn leaves, also bore the children of
those who demanded the tower to be built. And they bore you.
You stand on their work, their lives, their hopes and despair.
You stand on their blood, you stand on their dreams.
You know your place. Now you must claim it
as you move forward.
Look up.

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