Dear Liz
by Marilyn Buck


Dear Liz
you fought for life till….
we talked of death

there was no one else who would

talk of death, makes people nervous
tongues stutter
we are all dying every day
you told me you wanted to scream

you’re not dying
like I’m dying
alien forms feed on my flesh
they are nearly finished

hardly anyone wants to talk
about death in Amerikka
though dying is a national preoccupation
a patriotic pastime

dead Indians dead Africans
dead Mexicans and immigrant workers
lives landscape Amerikka

from sea to shining sea

an institution
dead children starved
dead women battered
dead queers bashed
dead prisoners in dead-end prisons

a ritual

killer kops stalk
young-bloods who bop
to the beat of their hearts
an hip hop into springtime
through death-pocked streets

a sacrificial situation
sacrifices chosen by jury lottery
the particulars of participation
called crime to confirm
being black a definite plus
but mental incapacitation
or low-class station will do

those who do speak about the great fraternity of death
sit in clubs and councils
watch on wide-screen TV
death deterred:

someone else does the dying

yes we are all dying
but not your death Liz
in a prison bed
no parole
prison authorities say
they can help you die better
than your mother and children
unless/ you stay alive
until they can no longer
hold you hostage to their death culture