I Believe in the Machine of State

I believe, yes, I believe…
I believe, yes, I believe…
sitting in that cell, after her processing and
paper-work were completed and after all the
interviewing she’d done, getting a dream job
at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University,
surely she said, “Lord, I am so not worthy of
all this good fortune, this job, this work, so un-
deserving of this life of service, worth living, I
want out of this ol’ world—the runner-up is more
qualified, dedicated to doing your work and a better
fit for the job, besides that, I could make more on
welfare—and, I was wrong, Black Lives don’t matter,
please forgive me for becoming uppity and, momentarily,
forgetting my place…”

I believe, yes, I believe…
I believe, yes, I believe…
she intoned like a Baptist preacher sermonizing on Sunday,
in that cell, “I brought shame on myself, my profession, my
family, community and the Black Lives Matter movement by
questioning authority of a loyal public servant who only wanted
to help me stop smoking! Gawd, he was your messenger delivering
a public service announcement big tobacco didn’t want me to hear:
cigarettes kill over 50,000 Americans annually, and Gawd, I know
that you’d rather see him light me up, than see me light up—
now, I understand that’s why he made his U-turn, and stopped me
in the first place…”

I believe, yes, I believe…
I believe, yes, I believe…
she confessed like a Catholic confessing to her priest, in
that cell, “Making a lane change and not signaling is a
Capital offense in the Lone Star state
of mind I’m in, not being able to repay my family $500.00
for bail on the paltry salary of my new job, father, this voids
my will to live, cancels me out
like a check stamped ‘insufficient funds’
father, there’s no open window in this white site
high enough for me to leap from like South African
anti-apartheid freedom fighters, and no gun for two cool
suicide shots to my brain, like Gary Webb, or a handcuffed
Harry Houdini headshot, like Chavis Carter in the backseat
of an Arkansas police cruiser, or slick suicide moves of 19-yr-
old Pvt 1st class La Vena Johnson in Iraq, suicidal enough, the
army swears, to pour acid in her anus and vagina after shooting
herself; please, father, guide me on how to get it done my way!”

I believe, yes, I believe…
I believe, yes, I believe…
she moaned like an ol’ Black Blues singer down on
her luck, “I’ll just have to make do with dis big ol’ black
garbage bag, sho’ hope de Black Lives Matter movement
see de symbol and quit all dey nappy-headed foolishness,
Black Lives Matter—all lives matter—jus’ lissen to silence
ob black faces in high places, lak de con- stitutional lawyer
who don’ believe in lookin’ back, goin’ forward wit de work
ob ‘enhanced interrogation’ and targeted killin’ he so gud at…”

I believe, yes, I believe…
I believe, yes, I believe…
Sistar Sandy’s ‘suicide’ like I believe bullies
hopped up on Vitamin S, and PTSD from
killing in Afghanistan and Iraq, monsters
with monikers like, Frank ‘Choker’ Vasquez,
Jude ‘The Foot Doctor’ Siapano, ‘Gloves’ Davis,
‘Clubber’ Williams and ‘Chokehold’ Johnson help
kind old ladies cross streets. Just like I believe they
rescue cats from trees—and NOT “protect and serve”
everything done in service of brutal capitalist exploitation…
Long Live The Fighting Spirit of Sandra Bland!

Former forklift driver/warehouse worker/janitor, Raymond Nat Turner is a NYC poet; BAR's Poet-in-Residence; and founder/co-leader of the jazz-poetry ensemble UpSurge!NYC. Read other articles by Raymond Nat, or visit Raymond Nat's website.