“If It Were You” by Hamza Franklin

A poem by Ray Hamzah Franklin

If it were you taken
From the hottest sands
Would you want this Paradise Land
That’s not his land?

If it were you in control
Of recidivism and rehabilitation
Wouldn’t mass incarceration
Help your financial situation?

If it were you beneath
The force of someone’s knees
Would we hear you if you cried
I can’t breathe?

If it were you driving
Your car with your wife
Would her phone record
A traffic stop and the end of your life?

If it were you buying
Snacks and gas
Would a cop’s mistake
Make that purchase your last?

If it were you wearing
A hood and walking around
Would someone kill you
Claiming to stand their ground?

If it were you enjoying
The safety of your own nest
Would an illegal search warrant
Earn a bullet through the chest?

If it were you living
In a box on the street
Would you be choked to death
Because you had nothing to eat?

If it were you buying
The times I’ve been sold
Would you buy that
Columbus traded slaves for gold?

If it were you in the role
Of mother and father figure
Would your greeting still be
Wassup my bitch? Wassup my nigga?

If it were you printing
Money because you knew how
Wouldn’t you had paid
Your trillions in death by now?

If it were you mourning
A child shot in school
Would you use a gun
To change gun rules?

If it were you being
Questioned the whole day through
Would you have any answers
Or even know what to do?

If it were you complaining
About all of life’s chatter
Would you log a complaint
That all life matters?

If it were you enjoying
A drive through Memphis
Would five of your kind end your life
By beating you senseless?

If it were you in need
Of a breath or two
What on this grand green Earth
Would you want me to do?

Ray Hamzah Franklin is locked up in New Jersey State Prison (NJSP). He is a participant of CAPTIVE VOICES WRITING COHORT at NJSP. He is a published writer/poet & artist. Hamzah is also an accomplished speaker & is currently the acting President of the NJSP Toastmasters “Emanon” Club.