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I used to think that everyone was tied with puppet strings,
And that every move we make wasn’t our own.
I asked my history teacher and she said
Americans are free, what else can there be?
And I said
Free is not the truth, we cannot be free,
Not with these strings tied to our hands and our feet,
Peoples’ eyes becoming black buttons,
Lifeless and dead because they are not them anymore and if their eyes are buttons
Then they can’t cry.
And no, God does not control our puppet strings, as much as we like to think and hope and wish that he Does he doesn’t.
The man with the whiskey-smellin’ breath, blowing it in the woman’s face,
Smackin’ her, leavin’ a red mark the shape of a hand on her cheek where a smile should be.
She just found out she’s havin’ a baby girl,
But the strings don’t agree.
The mother, beating her sons and daughters until their faces are black and blue,
Until the blood runs from their veins to the floor staining it red
And if anybody asks it’s a ketchup stain.
But as soon they don’t it’s your blood, trickling across the floor like a river where no fish swim
Only anger, running red and hot burning a memory in your heart.
I used to think that our strings were tied with knots then cannot be untied,
Twisted with words and actions so cruel that your fingers freeze at the touch,
Tied around are wrists and ankles, our backs and our legs until we look like a fish out of water gasping for air,
Tied around our necks so then we move the wrong way we have no breath.
I thought this until I saw the man pull out a knife and cut his strings loose,
But he forgot to stop cutting and shred his soul to pieces,
And as the man in shreds walked away, he handed his to knife to me.
I looked at the silver blade and cut my strings, but I stopped because I want my soul to be whole,
Whole like an unbitten apple or a full moon or a flower in blossom with the petals stretched out to the sky.
The shredded man walked down the street, and I watched as he shouted to a man wearing a scarf the ‘wrong’ way,
F**, right in his face,
And chains appeared around the shredded man’s arms and legs, holding him in place with unbending power.
I can still hear the jingle jangle in my ears, scraping my mind like fingernails on a chalkboard,
Every tear I cry you can hear those chains.
And the world wrapped in ketchup stains and puppet strings and chains with tears running across them
And for every star shining in my face in the middle of the night while I lie awake listening to chains
There is a cut-free soul who knew when to stop cutting,
And for every crack on the sidewalk there is a person bound in chains.
I don’t know which there is more of,
But I do know that down on earth the jingle jangle is everywhere to anyone who will listen,
And I know I can’t cut the world free until somebody tries to help me.