Commentary and Philosophy Poetry posted March 24, 2023

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A No Rules~Free Verse

Fractured Faith

by Sandra Nelms-Ludwig


An abandoned lot set behind the boarded-up, run-down house across the street from my Big Mama Lena’s home.
Well, it was my home too, because Big Mama raised me.
Shucks, Wednesday night prayer meetings and church on Sundays
wrapped in a Grannies’ love was for most of us our daily bread.
Sweet Lawd, we knew our souls’ grace squarely rested on the borrowed prayers
from mostly gray bowed heads.

Remembrances of my childhood
like pieces of dull glass raggedly cuts both ways.
There’s always a yesterday to recall
when I laughed like I owned laughter,
or a bygone time which drags me backwards
fully bound in ropes of regret.
However, that abandoned lot use to be a joyful stomping ground.
Played there for hours in the sweat-dripping
sweltering summer sunrays.

Chattering and loudly owning laughter

until the closed eyes of daylight.
We were just chaps being chaps


Everyone in our neighborhood had heard
THE Kingly leader’s speech.
We knew there was a mountaintop to dream about,
and black Grannies beat into us aspirations
they couldn’t obtain for themselves,
Mother-wit grounded in the ever-prevalent realization
that black folks gotta work harder than white folks

to get more than fallen crusts from the American pie.

Nothing was gonna be free; nothing was gonna be easy.
Yet, we dreamed of being
at some point.
My friend Jermaine who we called “Main” had a dream too.

Even before his 12th birthday, he towered above the rest of us
and was what the old folks called a big-boned boy.
A yes ma’am, yes sir, followed directions, kind to insects,
oversized kid who liked toy guns.
They said the cops thought he was a grown man with a real gun,
but he won’t.
He was our friend “Main” who had finally gotten
the BB gun he wanted for his 12th birthday.
A white cop shot and killed him.
They said it happened only seconds
after he skidded on squealing tires into our abandoned lot.
Seems someone saw “Main” playing with his new BB gun and called it in.
The lawmen classified his death a tragic mistake.
Had to be,
cause cops supposed to be good guys capturing bad guys.
“Main” won’t no bad guy.
I told you he even liked bugs.

I didn’t understand, and the more I thought about it,
the more my head ached and my stomach too.
I hated funerals.
People cry too much and too loud.
I glanced at Main.
His hands were folded neatly and still, so still across his chest.

Couldn’t stand looking too long.
He rested in his navy suit.
I never saw him in a suit before.
Didn’t many kids have suits.
Clenched my fists and my nails made half-moons in my palms.
Nope, I won’t gonna cry too long and too much.

Jermaine went to meet his maker sooner than the later he desired.
I learned sooner than the later I desired surviving blackness is scary.
Being a “big-boned” black chap ain’t a good thing,
no matter how many prayers are said.
Death is greedy and an equal opportunity provider.
Death will gladly take kids.



From the closing of his casket,
survival became for me a strong, steady tremor
rumbling under my mountain.
It frightened me into thinking I knew nothing about mountaintops,                                                   W
hat was on level ground was unsure.
Fractured faith crawled into my sleeping hours
and followed just as many of my waking steps.


As the years swallowed my chap days, I realized one sad constant.
Being black was never gonna get easier and was gonna remain scary.
Won’t no safety talks or sacred prayers gonna stop my people
from being sent to the Sweet Lawd
sooner than the later they desired.


Deaths like Main’s are an ever-present possibility
from those who swore to protect us.
please stop.
We Need You!
Restore our fractured faith.

No Rules Poetry Contest contest entry

Chap is used a lot in the Black culture for a child boy or girl. Chaps are children.
Death of youth in poem is a homage to Tamir Rice.

Photo of kid by Thomas Chauke-Pexel/Canva
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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