Lost Heroes

root - Posted on 31 December 1969

for sister Shoshanna Johnson a single, Black mother who was a Prisoners of War in the immoral and illegal invasion of Iraq

by Staff Writer


There are no lack of

affirmative action programs

on the front lines

of the U.S. military,

there is full equality

in killing and in death.


Had you sent yr resume

to a Fortune 500 company

there would have been

no calls back.

There is a strict policy

against Tamikas,






and Shoshanna Johnsons,

too scared that

yr nappy-headed children

will be tagging along

to work each day,

climbing on office furniture,

running from cubicle to cubicle,

begging for candy and for spare change.


And still along

the Broadways,

Madison Avenues,

and Park Places,

of the world,

brown-skinned women

push designer strollers,

with bright, white babies,

on sunny days,

down tree-lined blocks

to parks and museums,

while theirs pack

into day care centers,

ten, fifteen, twenty at a time,

in dimly lit rooms,

wearing mismatch socks,

playing with mismatch block sets.


And you, single mother,

yr brown skin and bent smile

made the picture of

welfare and broken homes.

The photographs of you,

hoe in hand,

child tied to yr back,

sweating from yr brow,

dripping milk from yr swollen breasts,

still go undeveloped.


When have mothers

not been single?

Nuclear families are more

destructive than nuclear weapons.

When children have no

grandmothers, aunts, sisters,

other mothers

then mothers will remain

single and alone.


Mother is not an occupation

so you enlist

to put food on yr childrens bones

now helping to bomb yr sisters,

whose voices have been silenced

by bombs and men,

and drowned out

by the tears of their dying chilfren.


The media reports,

you sacrificed your freedom

for the sake of your children.

This news goes


and millennia late.


Maybe yr childrens father,

or his father,

or yr father,

or some man

will see your photograph

printed on the cover of

U.S. newspapers

and find a way

to take care of yr children,

his children, their children too,

and spark a generation

of fathers who will raise fathers,

fathers to sons

and fathers to daughters.


As if birthing civilizations,

nurturing generations

of the worlds children,

allowing white babies

to suck your breasts dry

while yours went hungry

was not enough,

now, you are being asked

to fight for Our Freedoms,

freedoms that you have

only heard about

in myths, lawbooks

and in ancient words

whispered by the oceans waves.


What more will man

ask of you?

I have no more requests.

If the world spent the next

five thousand years at yr feet

in reconciliation and worship

it would not be enough


You are closer to

a savior than a prisoner

closer to a crucifixion

than a casualty,

African woman,

you are closer to Jesus

than Jesus ever was,

you have died

and been reborn

more times than be

counted or imagined.


Take with you

as you always have,

the sun,

the earth

and the waters,

they will have to be enough.

As an oppression

as old as memory

have not been able to

take these from you.


Yr coming home

has been covert, quietly

sneaking back into the country

beneath media radar.

Yr life as a single, Blk mother

will not make any front page news.

Kahlil Almustafa is the 2002 Nuyorican Grand Slam Champion and author of Grandmas Soup and Im Crying Everyones Tears.


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