By Mark Gonzales
I. The three century old remains of 20,000 African men, women, children former slaves
were discovered after the clean up of the World Trade Center’s collapse.
II. Between twenty and thirty percent of all stolen Africans brought to America as slaves
A Letter on behalf of Cordova Center by one such “slave”
Is an unspoken song on the tongues of the forgotten
ever wonder where will you pray when your skin has abandoned you
or what religion is your skeleton
A note for Manhattan city residents & Mr. President:
if cemeteries have zip codes, air mail this poem to my mother
courtesy of a masjid wings holding my father’s tear.
New York: have you forgotten cities are built not by steel but bones
that breath is turquoise colored accessory of skeletons
wearing mahogany skin as Friday prayer best
Bedstuy bones have a Project Runway dreams – runaway from the projects.
Tired of being told their shade is out of season by men in midnight blue suits
attempting to tie a two-thumb thick bow tie noose around their neck.
Strange Fruit is back
the new and the old Black
in time for spring season
Muslims again the designs
breathing chest heaving
swinging from government branch limbs.
Dear America: I interrupt your Tea Party
with reminders of ancestral legacy
that picked the very leafs you sip.
They say thirty percent of all slaves stolen from Africa were Muslim
denied prayer on ships
lynched and mocked
whips for the worshipping
shot for salaat
slaves to the dollar: enslaving slaves of Allah
When you built the World Trade Center over our cemeteries
did Senegalese mother’s hold drum circle protest at construction companies
for the steel saliva you layered on their children’s coffins?
New York City’s living pretty luxurious brag
how little skin they own
that one can see their bones through rib cage as if Prada
fashioned design mannequins after auction blocks melanin.
While in 2002, twenty thousand African slaves were discovered
underneath the cat walk modeling states of decay
in basement of today what is called the World Trade Center.
believe in God
tolerated for invoking the name in anorexia’s reverse communion
practices Ramadan 365 days a year
stomach lining sacrifice offering to porcelains altars
in city subsidized stalls and clubs.
is child hiding with no one seeking
holding song of Quran In decomposed lungs for three centuries
the sum of Saladin’s sons and daughters under one hundred three steel exhales
separated from the ummah by a cracked twin tear
only homage to memory street cipher testimony
a windmill break dance spin cycles of seven
for circles never made around the ka’ba in Mecca.
Cordoba: thank you for daring to call adhan
in a den of lions illiterate to love.
They call our cemetery “Ground zero”
de facto nicknaming us en la tierra negative
absence of value
America: tell us
in this space moment century
as you stand over our grave
that 20,000 spirits of Muslim African
slaves still do not have a right
or a place to pray.
Your building zones built homes upon our bones
Must you again deny us in death our rights you denied us in life.
We, deserve after three centuries to finally say
Bismillahir rhaminir rahim
Know our prayers end as they always do.
assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah
assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah
(May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon ALL & you)
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– Mark Gonzales is a poet, educator, & founder of the Human Writes Project. He has
appeared on HBO Def Poetry, Mun2, NPR & with human rights activists & artists across the
globe. Based in Seattle, WA, where his family used to work the fields, he is committed to
cultivating dignity through creativity. This poem was contributed to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.