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Syndic Literary Journal


The Noble Army


Dav Rose

For ~ George Floyd, Brionna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery

“We got to hold up
the blood-stained banner,
we got to hold it up
until we die.”
“We are soldiers”
“Many thousands gone”
(Words: ~ African American Spirituals)

We’re far too many to serve as your saints
called on to intervene for you in your troubles.
Instead we’re bodhisattivas unwilling to leave
this blood-stained country as long as one darker
brother or sister lives in fear for their own
dark children as we for ours.
We learned the drill first from your Constitution

so constructed as to dehumanize, disenfranchise,
disrespect, dismember us. But we remember
the famous ending of your Amendment One,
the glowing trail of religious, speech, and press freedoms
and the fiery comet-head that reads “the right
peacefully to assemble to petition…in redress
of our grievances,” yes, that’s us.

But as for you who clothe yourself in the blue or grey or White power of the 1%, their gendarmes and mercenaries,
You at least are unbelievers in the Law except Amendment Two,
Though you are hardly the security of a free state
But in fact the insecurity of a slave state, you
with your tanks, your teargas, your heavy bombs and fired canisters
shot at us, killing here and maiming there

Oh, put away your shields and screens, leaving
only that mask protective against the plague,
the greater or the lesser one – look
nakedly upon our naked hands!

Know that to your weaponry we oppose
anything that comes to these our pure and naked hands
outstretched to carry Truth to Power,
that Power may come over to our side, and then,
as Henry told us, the revolution is complete!

And in the name of our most recent martyrs,
of Ahmaud, Brionna, and George
and for the children of those of yesterday —
those of Eric, Walter, Freddie, the Charleston Nine
and the dead of Baltimore and full circle from Texas
of Alton back home to Philando’s Minnesota,
we implore you: come over!
Throw down your guns and shields
down by that very riverside which in winter became
a poet’s grave who foresaw this cauldron of a life,
this sickness of a nation unto death-

Oh, may our sacrifices suffice! We can’t breathe!
Don’t shoot! Our hands outstretched are now
turned upward to await the shower of Grace!

Minneapolis/St. Paul 2020
Ocean Park / Washington 2020
Washington /DC. 2020


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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