The sky’s the Limit

The sky’s the Limit

By Walidah Imarisha

The unfinished revolution
Borne of the streets
Blood pours down the concrete
In turn
Birthing tracks in a studio
Laid down on wax.

Manifesting tell-tell stories,
Duplicating and recreating
The entire color spectrum.

Visions of the Brown Berets
Haunted by the CIA,
Undulating     vibrating     penetrating
The beat masturbating to itself
And in turn inseminating segments of the population
Vietcong guerrilla commando fighting style,
Staggering through a mind field
Caught unawares
Kamikaze situations
Night falls
Belly crawls through the tall grass.

Looped it with an SP 1200
Like the Ho Chi Minh trail.
Clearing out the stale empty posturings
Of this almost lost
Or perhaps a lost and found generation.
Turn the station
And find static.
The tell-lie-vision spews me back at myself
In stereo surround sound
Fast closing in
Hit the dirt or assume the position,
Makes no difference.

Do not attempt to control us
Because we are in control of the control
Ciphering with the speed of a raised fist
Like this was the 68 Olympics.

And we’re bombing cities and bombing buildings
Spraypaint aerosol warfare
Twist off the top
Never stopped
To read the hand writing on the wall.
With blood in my eye
George Jackson resurrected
But to be corrected by the department of corrections
Is akin to being overruled by empty objections.
Cause for pause
Being Mumia Abu-Jamal
Still sitting in a cell.

Who volunteers for a trip to the jungles of Chiapis?
The print of the Zapitistas mark me
And with sully on my forehead
I can’t hope to stop this.

Increase the insurrection
Attica Attica
Turntables spin with the prestige of a mack 10
More or less deadly
And we become the repository for chains left
The beat drops
And the mic slinks through these streets
Twisting around this nation’s larynx
Sanity cracks
Strange fruit
Hanging from Detroit lampposts
Hypercrossed like stars
And a load too heavy to be laid down
Drowns out the silent screams of burning Buddhist monks
And revolutionary shot dead while they slept
And children who’ve never wept
And thanks to modern tricknology,
They are mass marketed
Circumcised and commodified for a larger audience.

And bebop is lost
And g-rock is king
And emcees talk about
Ayo, I rock the mic like Malik el-Shabazz
Dropping bombs like this was Vietnam…
But do you really?

You might rock the mic like Fidel Castroooooooo…
But if you a counterrevolutionary
Then COINTELPRO incineraries got Castro
Rolling over in his soon to be grave.
Fuck the DAT machine
Che Guevara stalking through the hills
But without making moves
Movement is lost
As are you.

Culture vultures perch on warheads
Waiting to drop something on your head
And you talk about how this mic here is sacred
But you desecrate and defecate on the holy shrine of our ancestors
Talking bout
Straight from the hip or the shoulder
But when Huey Newton slipped
Who caught him?
Uncle Sam
With arms wide open.

Burrowing down into the belly of the beast
Ripping from the inside out until I can breathe
Finally understanding the powers that be are terrified
And if I play this track backwards
Voices scream for more than apple pie
Or a cabin in the sky
But I decide to just

And the record is not over yet
The record is not over yet
The revolution is not over yet.

Wade in the Water

Wade in the Water

For the people of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Iraq, Aghanistan, Colombia, South Central, North Philly and every other spot on the globe people are resisting the sharp teeth of genocide.

By Walidah Imarisha


There was still water
6 ft deep
in people’s homes
two weeks
after the flood.

Through waters laced
with chemicals
and human excrement
and bloated bodies,
black and brown people
went out every day
to save the kin
left behind,
and discarded.

King George said
“Let them eat flood water”
and they choked
on the watery ashes
of progress.

he said
standing in a small canoe
floating in what remained
of the 7th ward
hands in the air
eyes trained on the hypnotic guns
of three officers
who minutes before had
fired 4 shots
that may or may not
have been warnings
he said
heart heavy in his mouth
“I am looking for the body of my son
Let me find my son’s body.”


The Mississippi River
was dragged in the 60s to find
the bodies of three civil rights workers
by the klan.
dozns of human remains were found
all black         all nameless
they were unimportant
to officials and bureaucracy and media coverage
and “good” race relations
so they were thrown back
to the river.
How many lives were submerged
until they stopped kicking?

The Mississippi is claiming the bodies
of the lynched
once again.


Muddied rings still stain
houses halfway up
and the bodies of rotting dogs
still congeal in the stilted Louisiana sun.
In a town an hour outside of New Orleans
there are still corpses
from their graves,
set free to float down the street.
An old man sits on his porch.
“I built this house
with my hands.
Lived here 58 years
With my wife
until she died two years ago.
I saw her casket
in the waters
two weeks ago.
No one will help me
put her back in the ground
so she can sleep.
Won’t anyone help me?”


Read the graffiti on a house
That was completely surrounded
By water

Three weeks and no FEMA
Three weeks and no relief
Three weeks and no aid

“Yeah, they gave us sumthin,”
the brotha snorted,
dreads coiled and purring on his head.
He was one in boats
every day
taking people to the promised land
of higher ground.
“On the 5th day Red Cross
dropped some hard rock candy
on our heads.
Don’t let them tell you Red Cross
never gave us nuthin.”

And they gave them
National Guard and NYPD and US Foresty Dept.
and the INS and Border Patrol
and state troopers and US Marshalls
and the DEA and NY Corrections Officers
and detachments and battalions
and tanks
and automatic weapons and hummers
and curfew and work camps and concrete floors
and nightsticks
and blood and bullets
Don’t let them tell you they never gave us nuthin.


The water has receded
and the human tide
trickles in.

An oldyoung woman
stands in her decomposing house,
black mold climbing up the walls,
coating baby pictures
and high school diplomas.
Her four daughters
run after their 11 collective children.
The grandmother
holds the youngest in her arms
and he is nothing
but wise eyes and heavy brow.
“Of course I’m staying,”
she hefts the tiny sage to the other hip.
“I don’t know what we will do
but this
is ours.
We won’t leave it.”

And she does not mean the cramped house
and dead yard out front.
She means this spark of hope
but burning out
enuf space
to catch a breath.



By Walidah Imarisha

My ex partner
My sometimes lover
My always love
Are beautiful

I am in the midst of death
But that is just the way
On a hot texas day

And I have to write this
Because I want to honor
A warrior
with the face of a child
if death row
can’t slice up a sacred heart
then I
have a lot of blood
to start pumping

touched my face
with willow tree hands
and said
a butterfly
just landed on your left cheek
it flew
out of your eye
don’t blink

Hold tight


There are no third chances
with courts or compas


trust me
I trusted you
I know how ugly/beautiful you are
I have seen your scars
I have kissed all of your scars

Even our scars/stars
Are beautiful

And we
None of us
Not a one

will not be
Washed away

8.31.06 - For Hasan

8.31.06 - For Hasan

for the rebel spirit of hasan shakur

by Walidah Imarisha

No stay
There was no stay
We can’t stay


Where is ossie
And why did he have to leave us
Because we need
A eulogy
For another shining black prince


too young
to be an ancestor
and too old
for this world

he’s gone onto a better place
said the bearded white man
at the candlelight vigil
outside of the prison
one candle for the
eight people


He fought for this place
He has moved on
But it is not to the peace
Of your white jesus
It is to the arms of the ancestors
And comfort
But he knows
Even in death
His work is not done


107 degrees
black crayon melts
the words burn up
oh fuck
burned up
we lost again
did we

in the car
outside the funeral home
where they’re going to burn
him up
don’t cry
hasan said
this is yr show
so im sitting in this car
with all the windows rolled up
sweating instead of sobbing
with a melting black crayon
staring at 11
bright-as-yr-blood mesh bags
full of all your worldly possessions

cuz u said
what does crying get you
waste of time and you never had
no time
to waste
so I don’t waste tears
or time
and its 6:45 pm
and at 5:58 we still had hope
and at 6:07 my stomach knotted
and I thought I would puke staring at the razor wire
and at 6:18 the press came out
and we knew
that this battle
was done
and you
wherever you are
in the sky
in the dirt
in my heart and fist
won’t stop
can’t stop
won’t ever let them
I am mourning my loss
Because I wanted you here with us
To see where this revolution thang
Will lead
And I rage at their brutality
Vultures feeding on any black flesh
They happen to find
And they are never sated

But I know this is not
A victory
For them
The first and the last
Time I saw you
You stared at me
With those world worn child eyes
And rumbled
Watch what I’m going to do
Whether they kill me or not
Watch what I’m gonna do
Ima make the ancestors proud


Welcome home, baby
I missed you
We’ve been waiting for you
Our arms are here for you
Stretching across the atlantic
And this time
No bars are going to stop us
You can rest

Only for a minute
Cause them
Back there
They still need you, baby


Everyone has to leave this world
One way
The wise sistasage said
You leave in your sleep
Or strapped down on their table
But you leave

There is an African belief
That when you die in battle
Your spirit becomes a warrior
And continues to fight

If they thought hasan was fierce
They have no idea what he can do
Let loose of the shackles of flesh
Joined with all the ancestors
Named and unnamed
A furious storm
A ferocious wind
The blood in your veins
Singing in your ears
Telling you
We can do this
He’s in the whirlwind now
And if they thought he was trouble


an avenging
warrior spirit
there is joy
in this

He is a body
This is war
And there are bodies
There will be bodies
Either way
Fight or run
Confront or cower
Bare our teeths
Or grin and bear it
We will die
It ain’t like
We never seen blood before
Fight for freedom
Or live this shadow existence
Of death

Hasan chose life


I wish
I coulda
You free
But words
Are no good
For getting free
Just for writing directions
So others can follow
But they don’t lead
The way
Only your feet do that


We will honor
With tears

That’s the only eulogy
You wanted