I'm Still Breathing | Sojourners

I'm Still Breathing

Photo by Jason Wong on Unsplash

Editor's Note: Sojourners is collecting writing from men and women in the prison system. This is one of their stories.

You can cast me in the darkest pit
and turn from it while seething.
And erase me from this very world
but baby, I’m still breathing.

Does this really make me worthless
and deserving of no love?
'Cause the strength to overcome your madness
courses through my blood.
Just like town halls and chow calls,
your antics are meant to weaken.
Just like fish under mountains of troubled waters
still, I’m breathing.

Did you think that I would take it,
now that you want to unleash your wrath?
'Cause I’m angry, black, and dysfunctional
the product of your bloodbath.
Do you really mean to demean my legacy to a lie?
'Cause I take your punches in the gut
while holding my head high.
You can dub me a gangster, thug, or crook
a hoodlum, or a heathen
and strip from me everything I love
but still, like wine, I’m breathing.

Do you really think that I deserved
the lashings on my back?
'Cause I made it through your troubled storm
with my soul still intact.

'Til the ashes of Mother Earth yields up the voices of my people,
I’m breathing.
'Til the day when materialism no longer determines my equal,
I’m breathing.
'Til chains, chairs, and chambers are no longer justices’ end
and my fellow American can call me brother, regardless of my skin,
I’m still breathing.

When my past sins reinvent themselves as my present day regrets,
I’m breathing.
When the weight of the entire world is riding on my chest,
I’m breathing.

When it’s reason enough for the war to be won,
is just knowing that I’m somebody’s son.

And I’m breathing.
I’m breathing.
I’m still breathing.

*This poem was written as a homage to Maya Angelou’s – “Still I Rise”

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