By Marie Chewe-Elliott

I’ve been here before
Down through the ages
To this place, this stage
On the threshold of justice’s door

Praying, marching, shouting
Knock, knock, knocking
Waiting and wading knee-deep then waist-high
through the tears of the mothers
knowing there will be others.
Praying, marching, shouting.
Yes, I have been here before
On the threshold of justice’s door
Half a century ago
In Selma, Oxford,
And Birmingham.
Choking down indescribable rage
I gasp for air then
Dial 911 to resuscitate justice in New York, Sanford, Ferguson.
The call is unanswered and I know
The tears of the mothers will not bring them back
Marching, shouting, praying will not bring them back
There is no protection for driving while black, walking while black,
or just BE-ING black in America.
I can’t breathe knowing there will
Be others.
Like Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman
Emmett, Medgar, Martin,
Like Trayvon, Michael, and Eric
Who became casualties of war
On liberty and justice for some.
I have been here before
And the young ones say
We must dropkick the door.
Hands up and
hearts aflame
hold on to justice
Like nimbostratus
clouds hold rain.

Declaring never to visit
This place again. ■



This poem appears in The St. Louis Anthology, available now from Belt Publishing.

Marie Chewe-Elliott is a writer, poet, and speaker who resides in North St. Louis County.

Cover image of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri after the killing of Michael Brown by a police officer. Photo by Jamelle Bouie via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

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