Thursday, October 13, 2011

POETRY: Four Little Black Girls

Today, I had the privilege of hanging out with Mr. JT Mikulka, who is an amazing human being and a member of an NGO committee that supports and promotes the work of UNICEF and specifically the Conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The CRC is an international treaty signed by every single nation on Earth EXCEPT for Somalia and the United States. The current transitional cabinet of the Somali government has signaled its intent to ratify the treaty leaving the United Nations as the sole nation on Earth not to recognize these otherwise universally recognizes protections of children.

This year marks the 21st Anniversary of the Ratification of the Conventions and the 52nd anniversary of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. A few weeks ago, JT asked me if I would be interested in reading poetry at the UN celebration of the conventions, and I, of course, was overwhelmed and said yes. Today, I had an "audition" with the committee that throws the festival. After reading the poem that I am going to publish below, they asked me to read another. It was an amazing experience, and, according to a text from JT, the good people on the committee loved the poetry.

The festival is November 17th here in NYC, and if you are going to be in town, please come out and see me. Until then, here is a first draft of the new poem that I read today for the committee.

Four Little Black Girls

They died
On the church steps
Four little black girls
Lifted to Heaven
On wings with third degree burns
Bombs beneath the stairs
Blew open Heavens gates
Shrapnel in the halo of St. Pete
Racist landmines
Claiming the lives of lives barely lived
Livid lines of resistance poetry
Spread from Birmingham to the Dead Sea
There, the starving prayers
Offered up to four black angels
Little girls from Alabama
sent scrambling
trying to dry tears of those children
Caught in their parents wars

From Gaza to Giza
Oaxaca to Kigali
Rangoon to Detroit

pleas fall from throats scorched
By UN resolutions
paper shields used as kindling
To keep the war fires burning
Like their empty bellies
They open eyes wide
Seen to much, heard too much
Fed too little
They settle at their parents feet
Tell me a story of a far away place
Where people have enough to eat, water to drink
Tell us about New Orleans before Katrina
When  Voodoo Mamas conjured mana and loaves and fishes fell from Heaven
Then tell us about roads paved with high school diplomas
Where Papas tuck babies in a night
Frighten away fatigue wearing boogeymen
Never sleep again with one eye open
No more Fathers and brothers sent home in body bags
In wars fought for theology
While kids got aching tummies
Their dinner fed to the corporate war machine
Occupy Wall Street?
Occupy the Universe
Wrap it up
And give it to the least of us
They can (re) teach us
How to be human
Share your toys
Clean up after ourselves
Put your things away
Leave the room just the way you found it
This isn't rocket science
It's they key to our survival

Suffer the young ones to come to us
So we can come back to our senses
Before the final chapter
Remember the four black angels
That went to Heaven
are sitting up there with their fingers crossed
that no more little angels
go to Heaven on wings
with third degree burns.

-Brandon Lacy Campos
-New York, NY
-October 13, 2011

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