Have You Ever Lived Our Lives?

Not all shoes fit the same. A day in the ghetto will change your perspective on privilege.

Have you ever lived our lives?
Have you ever cared
to walk through my block?
Have you ever cared
to see the hole in my pocket?
Have you ever imagined
what simmers in my kitchen?
Have you ever thought
to sit at my dinner table?
Have you ever seen
idle beans floating in my broth,
a pretense of soup?
Do you ever understand
why the poor yell over their food?

Have you ever seen my mom
struggling for breath in the stinking hole,
we call home?
Have you ever imagined
how much in cold nights we shrink?

Do you ever realize,
how it hurts, when you blurt ‘swine swarm!’
We call our kids?
Have you ever offered your kerchief
to a black girl raped in an unnamed street?
Have you ever fathomed
what sadness spreads inside
your housemaid’s skin?

Have you ever strayed into slums
We call our hearth?
Have you ever guessed
the depth of the abyss dug for us?
Have you ever measured our frustrations and anguish,
seeing daily rows of trucks
dumping near our homes your shit?

Have you ever cared to know
that your music of guns and bombs
exploding in alien lands
isn’t  balm to the families of the soldiers dead,
mostly ours?

Note: The stimuli for the poem was from a comment “Do you know how we live?” by a black writer Charles Blow, columnist of the New York Times, to a white panellist during a CNN debate on November 10, 2016, after Donald Trump was declared president of the USA. 


Madras Courier originally ran as a broadsheet with a poetry section. It was a time when readers felt comfortable sharing glimpses of their lives through verse. If you too have a poem you’d like to submit, do email us at editor@madrascourier.com.


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