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Winter 2019/20

Nancy Mercado


Are you going to haunt the police
who shredded your body with bullets

Unknown man

Are you returning one last time
To this world
To scream your rage
To make them know
You had no homeland
            Your nightly pillow was a slab
            of rain-soaked swollen wood

            Your change could never be used
            in the service of tanning booths
            or fashion clothes

Are you wandering the streets of your city

Unknown man

Trying to make sense
of humanity’s inhumanity

Wondering why the people
looming over your body
concern themselves
with the closed hair salon
and not your blood
rushing by

Nancy Mercado was one of two-hundred people recently recognized as best embodying the spirit and work of Frederick Douglass on the occasion of his bicentennial. She is the 2017 recipient of the American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement, presented by the Before Columbus Foundation.


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