Poem on NYC Fire Disaster: We were just trying to breathe


Poem Written By: Kujegi Camara

Trapped in stairwells

Black bodies overwhelmed by Black smoke

because this country

can underwhelm

We were just trying to keep warm

We were just trying to stay alive

But somehow in this country, to want to stay alive

Means you have already died

Means you have already lost

They will say malfunctioning space heater

Not malpractice

A door left open

Not infrastructural negligence

Because our bodies are not

worth a functional investment

Our Black bodies

Left West Africa’s sun dipped shores

To wade into America’s wind chipped borders

Dreams now ashes

They will say we inflicted our own deaths

Not that we were making space ourselves

Forced to carve everything from nothing

Building 333 steeped in violations–No

We were violated

Failure to comply–No

Heat was withheld because

Black bodies are not worth nurturing

The essential fact of capitalism

Is creative destruction

Our people’s health and safety destroyed

to fill up pockets of greedy landlords

An Irony

That to ask for heat

Instead of compliance

We get silence laced in fire

An overindulgence that drove us out

Handcuffed us into cardiac arrest

The system gutted us out of our homes

Now it needs to be gutted

How many times do we have to die

to finally be able to breathe

To the martyrs

May you breathe in God’s everlasting abode

May it taste like sweet honey

May it remind of the warmth you were denied, Mercy

May the mercy he affords you

Outweigh the pain you endured

May our promise that you did not die in vain

Allow you to finally take your rest


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