home | about marilyn | writings | tribute blog | donations

Dear Liz

Marilyn Buck


                                            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 landscaped 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
     youngbloods who bop
     to the beat of their hearts
     and hip hop into springtime
     through death-pocked streets
a sacrificial situation
     sacrificees 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

June 1997
This poem appeared in
Feminist Studies v 30 # 2, 2004