Arika Elizenberry is a Las Vegas, Nevada native and has been writing poetry and fiction for over ten years. Some of her favorite writers include James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Maya Angelou, and Langston Hughes. Her work has appeared in publications such as The Silver Compass, Neon Dreams, and Open Road Review. She currently holds an A.A. in Creative Writing and is working on her B.A. in English.
Red Summer, 1919
Oh, Amerikkka, Amerikkka—
land of freedom, democracy.
Is that what they call it?
My Uncle John Hartsfield
was strung from a sweet gum
tree in Ellisville. Screaming
for his life– rioters cut off his
fingers, hoisted him up, and
released two thousand bullets
into his lifeless body.
Photos of him were sold for
Remember my Uncle Willie Brown?
Rioters in Omaha strung him
from a lamppost, shot him dead,
and—set his corpse aflame.
A cluster of ivory faces grinned
Remember my Uncle Joe Ruffin’s boys—
Henry and John Holiday? Rioters in
Carswell Grove bound their necks,
shot them, and fed them to the flames
of a church.
Celebratory laughs followed.
Amerikkka, your spurned green-eyed monsters
killed my uncles in Knoxville—
killed my aunts in Chicago—
killed my cousins in Charleston.
Solving the black problem with knives,
guns, bats, and bricks—protecting their
Meanwhile, the blood of my
kin lay slain from coast to
coast in the name of equality,