Devon Howard is a senior at NOVA High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is actively involved in the Milwaukee High School Slam League, and will be studying Engineering at the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin in the fall.

This piece may contain material not suitable for children.

There is not a sky in my ‘hood,

and dreams are like broken bottles on crack

concrete floors of Milwaukee

streets where children are not asked to go play

but move around to a place



But nobody told us where Wonderland was.

So we get lost in the ‘hood where oppression still lingers

in the project halls from mothers depending on their sons

But I remember when mothers used to raise their sons

Now sons raise mothers with good morning and that’s how the day is begun.

Every day is a repeat from

crack being sold from

crack dealers to

crack heads on

crack corners where

bodies were laid and angels went up and fell

cause there wasn’t a sky to land on.

See, they want us to be confined in a neighborhood

knowing we can get raped by the statistic of society.

But what do you tell a young boy that replaces his intelligence with his erection,

not to fall vaginally frill to any girl that comes in his direction,

when she don’t even know she has the potential to become

the next cover girl of a milk carton.

And nowadays tears are forced to be replaced with decay

from days we prayed to get back,

but when I look back I see the reason we put most things in back,

like Martin Luther King

like little boys wearing hoodies being shot for no reason

and forgotten in one season…

Just like those teachers who come to our schools for two months

just to get a job in the suburbs,

just so they can show on their resume that working in the ‘hood means

working hard enough or

hard like those peanut butter and jelly

that single mother tries to provide every night, while ducking under window seal

because she done make a schedule to hearing gun sounds.

And I often wonder if this land we call the ‘hood is Wonderland,

or if Wonderland is another place where we wander the land

searching for things

that never seem to have existed in our brains

making us insane,

but maybe this where people realize

that there might not be no


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