a note on freedom

god / all my life i have been moving amongst the red & blue & white

           sky with a register of everything i am owed: forty acres / a mule / joy

an apology / my argument today / god / is this: america is neither life

               nor liberty nor pursuit of happiness / in the air / closer to freedom


i thrive / & god what is freedom but a breath & small act of love?

              a farmer on 40 acres / a mule’s head on his shoulder: joyful

after the state sends its thoughts & prayers & condolences

every day in this country a mother drowns

in white condolences. fights god. & as she

waits for him to get up she sits discipled,

grounded like a statue in her decision

to not turn the other cheek. standing on the

edge of an empty couch, she taunts god:  come on

nigga, as he collects himself the way dust

collects, what was’at shit on behalf of


the state’chu was talkin? dull light shines through an open

door. a curtain gives at the nudge of wind across

the room. every day a mother mourns in death’s

frayed fabric. she thinks she hears her twenty-six


year old laughing in the front yard. realizes

that it is only a bleating goat in the grass.

imagines her twenty-six year old here again.

this time without bruises & torn flesh & skin

still in healing. every day a mother waits

in dull light, mourns into an empty room, wails

the name of her twenty-six year old until

god, like dust, collects all pieces of himself

& thoughts & prayers sent on behalf of the

state from apology’s floor & rises once

more before her with another condolence

from the country’s floundering flag then swings. says as

god is on his back, wiping blood from his nose &

into the crux of his elbow spitting white

teeth, no prayer, my nigga, tears in her eyes,

will bring my baby back -- oh god my baby!

a field son witnesses reunion

tonight i do not believe in god or saints savior or prayer / water no longer is what it is / i do not own a boat / what do you call the air we breathe or don’t / is oxygen subtracted helium / ten million souls tied to deflated balloons drop into a field of water / welcome home

Jason Harris is an educator and poet living in Cleveland, OH. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Et Cetera Literary Magazine, Sleeper Service, Winter Tangerine, Riggwelter, 8 Poems Journal, and TRACK//FOUR. He is the Managing Editor of BARNHOUSE Journal. 

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