Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Questions

“Until all oppressed people
              are free—
              none of us are free.”

 

I.

the chains are different now—
lay on this body strange
no metal clanging in my ears

chains laying strange
chains laying light-weight
laying credit cards
laying welfare forms
laying buying time
laying white packets of dope
laying afros & straightened hair
laying pimp & revolutionary
laying mother & daughter
laying father & son

chains laying strange—
strange laying chains
          chains

how do i break these chains

 

II.

the chains are different now—
laying on this body strange
funny chains—no clang
chains laying strange
chains laying light-weight
chains laying dishes
chains laying laundry
chains laying grocery markets
chains laying no voice
chains laying children
chains laying selective jobs
chains laying less pay
chains laying girls & women
chains laying wives & women
chains laying mothers & daughters

chains laying strange
strange laying chains
          chains

how do i break these chains

 

III.

the chains are still here
laying on this body strange
no meta—no clang
chains laying strange
chains laying light-weight
chains laying funny
chains laying different
chains laying dyke
chains laying bull-dagger
chains laying pervert
chains laying no jobs
chains laying more taxes
chains laying beatings
chains laying stares
chains laying myths
chains laying fear
chains laying revulsion

chains laying strange
strange laying chains
          chains

how do i break these chains

 

IV.

the chains are here
no metal—no clang
chains of ignorance & fear
chains here—causing pain

how do i break these chains
to whom or what
do i direct pain
          Black—white
          mother—father
          sister—brother
          straight—gay

how do i break these chains
how do i stop the pain
who do I ask—to see
what must i do—to be free

sisters—how do i break your chains
brothers—how do i break your chains
mothers—how do i break your chains
fathers—how do i break your chains

i don’t want to kill—
i don’t want to cause pain—

how—
how else do i break—your chains

Credit


Copyright © Anastasia Dunham-Parker-Brady 2019 for the estate of Pat Parker. Used with permission.

Author


Pat Parker

Pat Parker was the author of Movement in Black (Diana Press, 1978) and actively involved in the civil rights, women's rights, and gay rights movements on the West Coast.

Date Published: 2019-04-18

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/questions-0