for Tamir Rice, 2002-2014
After they shot me they tackled my sister.
The sound of her knees hitting the sidewalk made my stomach ache. It was a bad pain.
Like when you love someone and they lie to you. Or that time Mikaela cried all through science class and wouldn't tell anyone why.
This isn't even my first letter to you,
in the first one I told you about my room and my favorite basketball team and asked you to come visit me in Cleveland or send your autograph. In the second one
I thanked you for your responsible citizenship.
I hope you are proud of me too.
Mom said you made being black beautiful again but that was before someone killed Trayvon.
After that came a sadness so big it made everyone look the same. It was a long time before we could go outside again. Mr. President it took one whole day for me to die and even though I'm twelve and not afraid of the dark
I didn't know there could be so much of it or so many other boys here.
About the Author
What People are Saying About This
"Hafizah Geter's Un-American chronicles the haunting legacies of brutal loss written in blood and memory across continents'together, slowly domesticating / our suffering.' The poems' narrative clarity edges against exile, and in gorgeous language deliver a trenchant testimony and understanding."Khadijah Queen, author of Anodyne
"Hafizah Geter's Un-American reads like a high lyric conversation overheard. Poem after poem, the most ordinary of itemscups, cards, couchesget ratcheted up into their proper glory. In other words, Geter sees the world as a stage set for what she needs to tell her family but can't, what she needs to hear from her family but won't. And all of this is done with attention to what this one beautiful story says about the so-called American story."Jericho Brown, author of The Tradition
"In Un-American, Hafizah Geter creates a new kind of portraiture. A family is slowly etched in relief in language both lush and exacting. This gorgeous debut troubles and reshapes notions of belonging against the backdrop of a country obsessed with its own exclusions, erasures, borders, institutions, and violence. Geter's poems simmer original forms of witness and resistance."Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen
"Here is the history of this country in all its blood and complication, with all its promise and betrayal. These poems are an accounting, a testimony, a prayerpoems meant to quiet the animal inside us. A beautiful book."Nick Flynn, author of I Will Destroy You
"This timely and powerful book speaks to the struggles on two nations, and to the grace of the invincible light of black life."Rigoberto González