Poetry By Renee Daniel Flagler
Please, allow me to beseech you. My son’s life depends on your answer. Morning after morning,
I implore that when he leaves for school or work or just to hang, an attempt to make himself a
better man, to build his heart and mind, to gain that which can’t be beaten away, that he will
make it back home to us. Safe. Whole. Alive.
I know I ask repeatedly, but every day offers a new feast of aggressions. You see, he drives a car.
It’s not fancy, but he worked tirelessly and saved until change boasted itself into dollars sure
enough for four wheels and coverage to mend accidental breaks. A vehicle he calls his own—
paid for by the very sweat of his back, not by entitlements. It’s not luxurious, but simple. Four
doors. Gray. Compact. But unassuming or not, he needs only to bear black or brown skin behind
the wheel for a simple broken break light, probable cause or simply nothing at all to lead him to
being carried by six and buried just as deep. Like so many bodies made infamous by hash tags.
Broken. Defamed. Deceased.
Prayers, if you will, don’t mind the insistence of my words. Just grant my dire requests. You see,
he has a future imagined bright and bustling as the shooting stars. There’s a corner office waiting
patiently to bear his name. There’s a passport eager to be stamped while he tries the languages
and foods of foreign lands on his tongue. Great walls and towers await his awe. A wife and four
adorable children look forward to calling him honey and daddy. This was his declaration. Two
boys and two girls. The boys must come first to protect their little sisters. His future knees yearn
for the sitting of his babies, wanting to be read their favorite stories that were once read to him.
Run, run as fast as you can.
He’ll introduce The Gingerbread Man with the same nostalgic
admiration that makes his eyes gleam at the fair age of nineteen. He can’t wait to live. Long.
If you will continue to consider my pleas I know he will survive. Tomorrow will greet him,
bubbling with possibilities. Snatch him by the heart. Float on ambition. Press with perseverance.
And dine on the pride of accomplishments, fueling success he couldn’t fathom decades before.
So when the sun rises again, I’ll be there to ask once more and once more again with the lighting
of every new day afforded to my own eyes. Even if I lose my sight, I’ll plead through the
darkness. I’m afraid that if I don’t he just may not make it home. Alive.
In Ten Lines
Can a whole existence be summarized
Birthed into hopes flickering lights through time
Milk fattened and readied for shearing like lambs
By the sharpness of the oppressor’s cutting lips
Clothed in armor to block darts of insolence
Though innocent of offense but still blamed
Taught to wade through threats imbedded in DNA
Grown steeped in resilience where survival reigns
The hotter the water the more you can handle angst
Makes adversarial living as subtle as the American Dream
That day everything changed
Their blindness made it easy
To inflict all that pain
They didn’t see the student
Who dreamed the unseen
Studied infinite nights
For the kind of white-coat future
That bloated a parent’s chest
They didn’t know
You had parents who cared
Domestic and blue-collared tired
But willing to stand the rain
To save a son created
Into a tapestry of hope
It didn’t matter to them
Blue fists busted your lips
Pounding in torrents
Stinging and hard like hail
Until your eyes bubbled closed
Dashing more that the light of mere sight
They didn’t care that
Depression would invite darkness
To cling to your soul for years
Sucking joy like leeches
Evoking all your fears
They didn’t stick around to see
Your unseen dreams disappear
Higher Ed fade from your grasp
As if someone turned the light
Out on your future
Yet some consider you lucky
You’re still here
R.D. Flagler fell in love with words in the second grade. The relationship has only grown since then. As a novelist and recent graduate of The College of New Rochelle's MFA in Creative Writing program, Renee remains passionate about writing, social justice, youth, and literacy.