This poem was written for and performed at Injustice Watch’s #SpreadTheWord poetry event on April 22. Artists were asked to write a poem inspired by one of Injustice Watch’s stories. This piece was inspired by Rachel Frazin’s 2017 story, Cook County Prosecutor: Judge Ford improperly held pregnant woman in custody.
My tummy filled with potential,
They say it’s despicable,
I tell them my baby gone save us one day,
watch what the streets say,
the police they,
keep they trigger fingers happy
I know it’s cliche to say. But
They just don’t like nappy.
they want you strung out, no bounce, just fall,
when the heat touch you
But momma say i’m the sun.
It don’t matter to the gun.
It don’t matter to the chinese food spot when they call you nigga after yo meal,
they could give a damn how you feel.
I feel something, tho.
My baby, kicking in this prison. I can’t get out either.
It’s the system. System. System.
The Matrix to get a paycheck.
They (think) they already know me.
Why I’m here and why
my “baby daddy” ain’t around. They don’t even speak his name.
Think he dead, or he was too close to the sun,
I want my baby to make it to, at least,
Then I let myself see that we feast on the birthday of your release.
Could you please keep the receipts?
I know what I did, karma messed around and gave me a kid, what gives? More to be redone and redo.
The sun that’s been created, cremated me phoenix and second chance. You hold my hand, you my summer time. You helped me beat those lines. Helped me in those times. News watching, but they just wanna see statistics. What’s my sentence? You a witness of what’s in my heart. I could love you and just fall apart. They opened me up and I just fell in love.
God said they’ll keep you safe from above. That’s a dove, skin cracking cause they barely gave me some dove,
I always dreamed of giving you life from a tub,
god opened my mouth, and they filled me with drugs. Copy. Strung out, no bounce, Cant even lay with you on the couch. don’t wanna say I love you too much, they be trying to sew my mouth shut. Cavity.
Are you mad at me?
Cause I ain’t who I was, or who I’m glad to be. They didn’t know I who I was or that Jesus was 33. Crucified for being who they said you was gonna be. My momma filled me with a lot of you, and as you are me.
I opened up a Black Woman, and out came a baby.
I opened up the baby, and out came a promise,
I opened up the promise, and out came choices
I opened up the choices, and out came Me,
I opened up Me, and out came Death
I opened up Death, and out came Life
I opened up Life, and out came fear
I opened up the fear, and out came prayer
I opened up prayer, and out came lies,
I open up the lies and out came the truth,
I opened up the truth, and out came me again,
I opened up me again, and out came second chances,
I opened up the second chances, + out came queerness,
I open up queerness and out came liberation
I opened up liberation and out came Audre Lorde
I carefully opened up Audre Lord, and out came more Black Women,
I opened up more Black Women, and out came anger,
I opened up anger and out came an erupting volcano,
I opened up the erupting volcano, and out came you,
I open up “you” and out came mirrors,
I opened up the mirror and out came glass,
I opened up the glass and out came Toni Morrison,
I gracefully opened up Toni Morrison, and out came a weapon,
I opened up the weapon, and out came Beloved,
I opened “Beloved” and out came you, again.
I opened you, again, and out came a Phoenix,
I opened up the Phoenix, and out came pain,
I opened up the pain, and out came history,
I opened history and out came James Baldwin,
I opened James Baldwin and out came a sunset,
I opened the sun set and out came another again,
I opened up another again and out came, you.
Jasmine Barber, also known as the rapper “J Bambii,” is an artist, educator, tarot reader, and cartoon-lover from the South Side of Chicago. She is the founder and creator of “The Brown Skin Lady Show” and the community healing initiative called “Come Together.” Jasmine has also released a tape called “RETROGRADE” under her alias. She is currently working on another body of music and more community-focused events.