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Sunday, November 06, 2022


by Bradley McIlwain

I hear the chains
Across N. America

At Capitol Hill
Where we’ve all become 

Loose change
In the pockets 
Of pirate politicians

We elected 
To change—
Only to decline it; 

False prophets 
Who paid God 
To burn Sodom & Gommorah 

But they can’t kill my pride 
The way they put a bullet 
In Bonnie & Clyde.

People are still dying—
Trayvon. Floyd. Till—
Still, they shot Lewis in bed

Like Billy the Kid 
Dreams spilling out onto the sheets.

Ohio weeps in the streets.
Neil Young heard the drums;
Police are cutting us down—

What’s at the heart of it all?
You abolish slavery,
But commercialize prisons;

One shackle for another, 
Brother divided by brother
Under the foot 

Of the blood spangled banner
Still soaked in the soil
Of migrant workers

From the states to the border 
Across bus stops and shelters—
The buck doesn’t stop

At Roe v. Wade
When in a state of insanity 
Some judge decides 

In a state of supremacy
That women no longer 
Have control 

Over their bodies?
Over… my… dead… body
It’s time

To untuck injustice where it lies
Unbury the dead
And loosen their tongues

So we can unlearn
The things our fathers 
Have done—and do.

I no longer trust in God
The way I trusted in you.
The all seeing eye 

Has lost its shine 
And I see you
In tent cities

Crying out for food—
Our people yearn. 

We are the choir 
Of others raging 
For freedom across the voiceless night, 

Rattling the chains for change.

Bradley McIlwain works as a Teacher-Librarian, where he strives to provide meaningful and inclusive spaces for knowledge exchange and advocacy. He believes that poems and poets can be agents for social change. Bradley’s latest book, Dear Emily, was published by Roasted Poet Press in July.