No More Elegies

Exploring racist violence, white privilege and the power of art – View students from Harding High School as they share their poetry with us at the College of Saint Benedict, November 2016

Sponsored by the English Department and the Literary Arts Institute

Harding High School Students

Benjin Thao
“I can’t breathe”

  1. “I can’t breathe” Yet not a single soul can hear or see
  2. “I can’t breathe” being pound against the ground and left traumatized
  3. “I can’t breathe” as more and more hooks and soccer kicks became unnecessary
  4. “I can’t breathe” an idememate burning sensation causing shut eyes, tears, and swellness after a dose of on-called pepper spray
  5. “I can’t breathe” for cutting loose of a prideful ownership to desperately asked for forgiveness
  6. “I can’t breathe” as the water from the shower, poured ignorance to drown his poor soul.
  7. “I can’t breathe” when goosebumps cover every single divide spot in an entire body.
  8. “I can’t breathe” the air full ruthless oxygen in a prison cell
  9. “I can’t breathe” the terror and fear are just too, overwhelming
  10. “I can’t breathe” with the realization of slowly losing life.
  11. “I can’t breathe” for when the emergence of help was most needed, but not aided.
  12. “I can’t breathe” having dreams of never waking up ever again
  13. “I can’t breathe” for this case is classified as natural causes of failure or to be precise a natural cause of failing to be human.
  14. “I can’t breathe” the echoes of dead forty eight year old black male in an illegal chokehold “Eric Garner”
  15. “I can’t breathe” without any final words before death
  16. “I can’t breathe” as until justice has been served rightfully
  17. “I can’t breathe” Only social media will witness that it took Michael nineteen times to say that, until something was done after a year.

Cyann Lee

“Black, Brown, and White
none of them bite
but from their history
the color of their skins makes
their actions a mystery
it is crazy what believe in
because they only know what
they hear but never been there
just like us only taking
things from a book
thinking we know everything
and how it feels to be in
their shoes
to know how it feels to abused
Words, Fists, Feet
let’s all take a seat”

Christopher English
The Leaves

Corbin McCall
Just Another Thought

Gun barrel of smoke
Threatens the creative,
Masters of sound,
People of the community,
Community of peace,
Until taunted,
Troubled by an overwhelming,
Unbearable force,
Kindred Spirits
With a lion’s heart,
World breaking thinkers
When time waits,
Fires that never go out
Even through drenches of sorrow,
But wasted once again,
To the suspicions of the sacred,
And prejudging Charlotte police.

Christina Muller
They Call Me a Savage

Davis Chang

In school we learned all our ways
From the things we do to the ways we play
But I didn’t want to learn things like this”
I wanted to learn the truth so nothing could be missed

I see through the eyes of the media propagating their lies
But things change as the time flies by
Now nothings the same
“We all have to pick a side it’s either black or white”

I see the hate
But in my home we were taught to communicate
Nobody wants to see all the destruction of our past
But to move on we have to let go of that at last

It’s not easy as all these events build up
The struggle is real
There’s no more shadows over it
This is truly happening

No more hiding
I know you see the problems through your eyes
Quit lying to yourself
And see the real world that’s outside

Devin Vue

Elee Xiong

That’s what they call us.
That’s how they see us.
The color of our skin
The way we talk
And even the way we walk.
They mock us, and yet they fear us.
Even though we reach and strive for the exact same thing.
I don’t understand why or how we are so different?
When all the little kids use to say, “Hey, want to be my friend?”
But now as they grow up they’re told to “stay away from them.”
Just because we are different…

Elizabeth Aschewlaw
Pronounce My Essence

Hamzia Kedir
Everyday Encounters

Hannah Vang

Jameson Vue
Yesterday’s Action

Jeramiah Cotter

You see They’re pissing on us with out having the audacity to call it rain
Yet question the youth why so much violence for this is our reaction to the pain.
They say hold arms and united we  stand  but it’s those who stand  are the ones who are bound to fall
They dont want color to have power
So my brothers feel safer with the guns on their hip
Stacking money till it tips
Driving fast in fournin whips
Calling woman hoes and bitch
Then cry to god when their friend bleeding in a ditch
Familys angered by the unjust jurisdict
Police get away with just a slap the wrist
Yet the voice of the public shall not go unheard.
Either through blood of our people or the destruction of a nation
We will stand strong , for we are a united nation

Jonathan Xiong
Misjudge Me

I was in the 3rd grade
In a white school full of hate
Less than one percent was even Asian
These white kids expecting me to have a higher education
Getting called rice bags, squinty eyes and yellow man
I was more stupid than every one of them
I just needed a helping hand
Couldn’t even speak right even to my friend name Ben
Ask me where I’m from, take a good guess.
Because I’m sure you’ll say I’m from China.
Oh and I should speak like this, “do you want some lo mein?”
How can they be so rude to me, do they even have a heart in their chest?
Used to be called Ling Ling, Chang Chang, Ling Long to Ting Ting
I even got used to it.
Do they even consider my feelings?
Because I’m tired of trying to fit in I admit
They used to act like they could speak my language too
Ching chong, ling long, wang wong to ding dong.
But I knew these kids were all Wrong
I just sat back,laugh and said, thank you
I was in the 3rd grade
I felt like I was being portrayed
School was bitter and sweet
Making me feel a little incomplete

Kaylyn Vang
Kaylyn is Strong

Melody Vue
What Makes Me different From You

A world full of colors
Why is there separation
Tell me why,
What makes me, different from you
We all are human
Created by god
Tell me why,
What makes me different from you
Do you not have humanity
Do you not have it,
Because what I see, is all your bigotry
What did I do to you
What made you believe I’m disgusting
What’s the reason for the separation you drew
Many ethnic on earth,
You hate me by nature
Tell me why
What makes me, different from you
You call me bad names
To make me feel pain
Tell me why
What makes me, different from you
Why is there still color barriers
Between you and I
We both are no different
We both live to die
We both hold values and beliefs,
We are about the same
Racial equality is no joke,
So what make me different from you

Nkau Lor
It’s Your Fault

Nou Ting Lor

Randy Vang
A Lasting Image

Racial issues.
Words that are spoken,
It hurts me, I might need a tissue.
“Chink! How do you even see?! Go get yourself a highly effective vision goggle!”
These words, these words that are said from this person…
They must have their mind boggled.
“You probably work in a sweatshop!”
But just because I’m Asian and my job is different from yours,
Doesn’t mean, that I work in a sweatshop doing chores.Just because I’m Asian,
Doesn’t mean I’m from Asia.
These words, these WORDS!
Why can’t we let these words go, and move FORWARD?!
Are you going to continue letting these racist terms divide us?
Or are you going to keep making a big fuss?
Anger arising from down below,
But I have to hold it in and keep a chill flow.
Let’s keep going forward like injured geese,
And hope for the best and make peace.
Let’s not continue the hatred anymore,
I need to hold my tears back,
My eyes are sore.
I look back at you and I smile,
And I hope that image of me,
Last in your head for awhile.

Sam Gadbois

i been through hell
and saw my demons dancing
i sat in the pits
with my inner fire burning
i been through hell
and it’s not what you think it is
it’s a summer camp
a place that people consciously send their kids
with the intent to make them whole
dark gold light black
sent from the heavens with the goal to reach perfection
God is androgynous
my strength is in my womanhood
the fabled Veil of Isis
i cannot be pierced
and if i am disheveled
you will only catch a glimpse
for i regain my balance
and my poise
a whisper in the void
silence through the noise
simmer in the pot
only half done
i am an alchemist
dark gold light black
sat in the pits of hell
exalted my being
discard the debris
that keeps you from seeing
rise from the coals like the three
who trusted in the darkness within the light
a diamond in the ruff
a beam in the night

Sheng Yang

Tai Yang

Vantou Xiong

Xeng Lor

Skyler Kuczaboski
Talkin’ Indian

“Why do you talk so white?”
What other way is there to speak?
My tongue trips and slips over words I was never taught
Words I can never learn
Words I was never allowed to say
I can’t fold my lips around the words that were stolen out of my ancestors mouths and replaced with bars of soap or hand shaped welts
It still hurts
I want to scream “Daga noogishka!” but I know that is wrong and will bring more pain so I say “Please stop.”
But somehow, that hurts more.
“English Only” signs plague my mind.
They twist and turn in my DNA
They make themselves at home as emotional and psychological scars disguised and memories
While I’m being asked why I speak like a white woman, people are being told to go back to Mexico for speaking Navajo in supermarkets
We can’t go back to where we came from, there’s nowhere to go back to
Boys in kindergarten are being sent home because their braids are too long
Or with haircuts…
She wanted to walk across stage in her moccasins
Her cap adorned with beads and feathers
But she, was told to walk off
They were all amazed she was even there, because not many of us get that far
Because they called her history and elective credit
Because her language isn’t offered
And the only way she knows how to talk
Is white