“Happy Birthday, Laquan McDonald”
Second Place for College Poetry
We sing it the blk way first this time cause it’s what you woulda done. It’s drizzlin inChicago, the droplets eruptin’ off the ground with each stompclap. I got a million songsstuck on my tongue for you, have for bouta year now. Ion know if you would be protestinif it wasn’t you who was shot but it was you who was shot so I guess that question don’tmatta much. Intrestin how it’s always a issue ‘a which time you in fronta a gun, almostneva a question of if ya ever found yaself behind one. It’s ya birthday, so thinkin on ya as anything but saintly feels wrong. I ain’t know much more about ya then what I saw inthat video. I bet no one near me does. I wonder if you liked rain, the cleansing act ofbaptism as given by the Earth. But then I remember you was a nigga and niggas don’tfuck with no soft shit. And though the obvious poetics of the fact that it is raining are notlost on me, I put that aside for the sake of yellin. Which is some shit that hard niggas canget behind. I ain’t a hard nigga. But I sure as shit ain’t soft. And I sure as shit ain’t finnalet him get off. This trial is four years too late but ain’t no killer cops finna walk aroundthis city on me and my clique's watch. He finna see justice, Laquan. Justice in your namefor the sake of all ‘em blk boys who got snatched and erased like you. You woulda been21 today so we pourin up for you. Smokin out for you. Right in front of the cameraswhich parade our blk suffering to the white people who like to pretend that they careabout you too but stayed home because of the rain.