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