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Hands Up

Testaments From The Policed, part 2

In this series, we look at excerpts from Hands Up: 6 Playwrights, 6 Testaments, a collection of ten-minute monologues commissioned by Keith Josef Adkins of The New Black Fest.

Idris Goodwin’s They Shootin! Or I aint neva scared: A Reverberation in 3 Parts
Part one: another bird brain evening

I’m still awake, agitated under low lamp light, desperate for

something to put me to sleep

every book in the house is caffeinated jittering with injustice
 every book, dark skinned dynamite

I stumble upon a quirky essay on Alexander Graham Bell 
but that ignites into a litany of names lynched and hung from telegraph poles

of course, I can't look away

I flip pages gritting teeth 
wishing I’d remembered to pick up 
more graphic novels at the library, more cook books and academic poetry

my synapses explode

I slam the book closed click off the lamp

when I hear that noise I been telling myself doesn’t exist for the last half hour

this thump and bang for the last half hour

trapped between two panes of glass, a bird with its wings and bird brain banging itself

it can see out both sides but cant get free

I cant open the pane into the house

because then I got a pissed off bird in my living room

so I go outside

it’s after midnight and chilly

I am wearing baggy sweats unlaced boots,
 a sweat shirt

I fumble with the window the bird more frantic, banging and 
pecking and

flapping its wings against the glass

It’s dark 
and I am a hooded black man fucking around with
 a window outside a white house in a floating ivory palace

a well meaning city of literature
 this Iowa city, this university town
 where I have been pulled over so many times I have a PhD in talking to cops

I take my hoodie off, the night crisp air is dark and so am I

thump and bang pecking and flapping terrified

fumbling my hands, trying to conceal the flathead screwdriver

I more I try to free this animal the more imprecise my fingers

when a car rolls by, I stop, dart into the garage

my mind flutters 
The image of tattered flags blowing gently—swaying

I focus instead on the window

wedging it from the outside 
like the imaginary home invaders I fear 
the mob of white Iowans who suddenly 
have a change of heart 
who look to decorate their own telephone poles

a car rolls by 
 daring me to go back to the window
 face another day of hooded sweatshirts
and bloody headlines
 thump and bang 
the glass


Excerpt from Glenn Gordon’s Abortion
And don’t be afraid of hate. A lot

of people talk about love but not about hate. I talk about balance. That’s what I believe. If you love God, you gotta hate the devil. If you live freedom, you gotta hate bondage. Hate, like love, is dependent upon the user. It’s like...like a light sabre. Some will use it for good. Those are the ones you hang with. The ones who use their feelings for a greater good, but how do you know? How do you know what’s the greater good? I’m glad you asked. When life is affirmed. When life matters, you can use death to make sure life can go on. On earth, we call that sacrifice. It’s honorable...sometimes. Other times it’s stupid, but it’s like I said, you gotta know how to handle your light sabre. The only emotion I don’t fuck with is fear.

That one is like the bastard stepchild of emotions. You know what fear is like? You know the first thing I was afraid of? Those seventeen-year cicadas. Every seventeen years, these little insects that have been living underground all this time suddenly bore holes from the earth and start flying around. Thousands of them. They come out for like three weeks or something, just to mate...mate and die. Ain’t that crazy? They’re big and they run into you and the sound they make while they’re flying...you get no sleep. I didn’t want to go outside. Dad says, “Son why are you so afraid? They not even thinking about you. You know what they’re thinking about? Sex. All they wanna do is have sex. They’ve waited seventeen years for this moment. They’re just teenagers, looking for a good time before they die. If they run into you, remember it was you that was in the way. You blocking their sex mission. They don’t bite or scratch or attack. All they want is love. Now get on outside and play.” I remember walking outside that day, seeing all those cicadas flying, and I thought to myself  “they not thinking about me; they just want sex.” And I stepped outside...and nothing happened. I was in the cicadas’ world and they couldn’t care less. And I was safe. I had always been safe, even if they were out to get me I am bigger and stronger than them. But they weren’t out to get me. You know what blocked me? Fear. Somehow, whether it was through TV or movies or whatever, I had learned to be afraid of things that look different from me. Even if they ain’t worried about me. Even if they just want sex.


Photo attribution: "Ferguson Day 6, Picture 12" by Loavesofbread. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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