14th & Constitution

This is a “Poem of the Day” feature piece

1. So I guess now I’m a domestic terrorist I usedta live in dc Really move through it Like a woman in the know Of the concrete and brick buildings Very familiar with The heavy sound of congas Steel pan drums Screamed vocalizations And corner store runs I used to really live in dc Mark my name on newspaper stands Hop the fare gates Slide in between closing doors, finding my favorite spot At the back of the train Behind a glass plate Blackness in my vision Sights of a restless city Kind in its ways Abrupt/ but lovable Loud/ but rarely boring This used to be a city of homes And dancing bodies Beaten feet And clappas Alabama Avenue and its dwellers Have been begging for Grocery stores Arts centers And landlords with concern/ For decades Since our great grandmothers and fathers Stumbled into this swampy marsh Hershey on their arms and legs Flavoring this inconsequential District With thick slurred language of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina Mixing them in a way only colored folk can Some chocolate comes from cocoa plants Ours came from our parents Who told us keep ten toes down And ur head on a swivel Cus u never know what’s lurking Around the bend for u— Opps donned in badges, others with social capital And monies Itching to rob u Of ur home And well deserved identity I usedta live here Now I bleed on the corners Die in between torn asunder Communities Barbed wires and empty promises

2. So, to quell my aching spirit I took to the streets Brandishing all the weapons I could find— Glocks, knives, tasers, and mace— And became a domestic terrorist I pushed strange people off the sidewalks Hoping to send A sliver of satisfaction to my people—dead and displaced I bust the windows out their cars Screamed “go home! We want our city Our music, and claim to our culture Back” We want our sweet mangoes back Guzzlers Singles and a safer Barry Farms I lit flame to the monuments Burned ‘Soufeast’ into the Mall Until it was made clear That this city was meant for the blackened I picketed on 14th and Constitution I yelled at the top of my lungs that This ode to history and culture is nothing When vessels of said “history and culture” Are discarded wiped out I threw landlords from The top floors of their buildings I dethroned Lincoln from his Seat/ porcelain like the bones Of Washington’s first slaves I used the parcels of his remains To etch my name All along Independence Avenue

3. I cut myself open and Recolored the scape of my city Until it was Black again like it was meant to be

© Ama Akoto (2018)

#ChocolateCity #gentrification #NMAAHC #WashingtonDC

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