Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi via Unsplash

As an emcee, I always write what I see.
By the Most High decree, I scribe when I feel the need. 
Prayers and Tai Chi keep me with bended knees,
I soar above tall trees on falcon wings. 

I ache to see humanity running free
I am sad to hear Earth wheeze when she breathes. 
I wish more emcees were born when we breed. 
I really want to see more people succeed. 
I write ghetto optics that never get published. 
Speaking my mind determines how I get punished. 
‘You should be an athlete,’ made my hopes plummet. 
I open my mouth and someone tries to plug it. 

“Speak proper English or you shall be deprived
of your rights.” Try Ebony Phonics on for size. 
We need a go-between for what words provide.
“Excuse me? I speak jive.” 

Why are our lives peppered by gun metal?
Why is everything ‘of color’ only in the ghetto?
Why do people hate what they don’t understand
and kill anyone that’s not in on the plan? 

People dead in the streets for false ideas,
struggling over money, celebrities, and IKEA.
Campaign and protest slogans are used as gimmicks
while unarmed, poor, drug-addled die every minute. 

They hate us, rape us, then enslave us
but won’t let us escape, thus, they make us
believe we must take what we need to survive;
it’s all about working hard to stay alive. 
Mothers have children that lack vision
because they can’t see past the fact that Dad’s in prison. 
Willie Lynch, Jim Crow, Uncle Tom, Chicken George,
why does everyone want to be someone else born? 

I write for the beauty I see in the struggle,
for the greater Jihad, for the truth-bursting bubbles,
for the love the oppressed show one another,
for the hope amongst brothers and sisters smothered. 

Launching missiles, loading rifles, bad tattoos,
enemies made by erecting walls that unglue
when hope shines from the darkness pursued
by stereotypes before we even know who…
From red asphalt to pink snow, the latest scene
shows gunshot wounds in the heart on my sleeve. 
Using microphones as noble steeds. Indeed,
I ride into the sunset of lives expired unrelieved. 

I read messages on the tears of displaced creeds
to spread the word about how cities bleed. 
We need leaders that do love-driven deeds
instead of authorities compassionate about greed. 
I recovered despite enmity, adversity,
live from the hidden university. Immersing me
in ink disperses debris and infuses certainty
with the ability to breathe the real with urgency. 

 
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. The Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. The work is lightly edited but has not been otherwise fact-checked.

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Mesro Dhu Rafa'a

George Coles-El, better known as Mesro Dhu Rafa’a, is a contributing poet for Prison Journalism Project, who is also a writer and graffiti artist. When Mesro is not tutoring GED students and writing, he enjoys role-playing games such as “Dungeons and Dragons” and “Magic, The Gathering,” and writing science fiction and fantasy stories. During this pandemic, Mesro has completed an anthology of writings called Unsung Hero. Mesro Dhu Rafa’a is a pseudonym, which means “stand with the sun, master of the ascendants.” He is incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison in California.