“Roots” by Shawn Demetrius Price

I heard through the grapevine,

That bodies are still hanging in Uncle Sam’s family tree,

Back when our pallbearers were leaves.

I think back to stories that my grandfather sobs over,

Hatred and humiliation,

His best friend’s castration.

He speaks of the strange fruit in the Carolinas,

The morgue had to go to apple picking often,

At least I know my roots…


I heard through the brushes,

Fear sparked by barks,

Those white kids in Baltimore used to sick dogs on my pops,

That’s strange fruit to play fetch with.

Especially after having to go fetch what the hooded men left.

Young, my father was warned,

When the Klan burnt crosses in the family lawn.

Trauma is still rooted in his heart.


I heard through the summer breeze,

The startup of pick-up trucks,

“Hey, nigger,”

I know they’re trying to start up trouble,

“Hey, nigger,”

I see head lights and hear the rooting,

“Hey, nigger,”

I just hope they aren’t shooters

Because if I’m rooted, who will know?

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