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Three Poems by Marilyn Buck

1. Consumption

TV captures imagi-
nation, holds us willing hostage
to manufactured need no longer basic
basted together by corporate Frankensteins

mr. mrs. ms.tified consumptives
we cough up blood
carnelian balances land
on cuspidoric collection plates
ATM pawn-brokers strategically placed
on corners, hookers who promise
promissory notes magnetically recorded
binary debts, unforgivable
at any price

addicted and ill
we dig deeper into fraying Calvin Klein pockets
hope for immunization and magic bullets
against fatality

tubercular roots strangle inspiration

September 2004

2. Jamaican Jump-Up

warmed by ginger-spice drink
and pungent foods galore
women from former colonies
most younger than liberation time
jump up
to the reggae beat
turn out on the floor
feet remember familiar grounds
far away

step slide glide
stomp and shake
women of the world throw down
prison chains
free for a heart’s beat

we dance

August 1997

3. Trinkets

“Those Africans who conspired with the European slave trade to sell us into slavery were seduced by trinkets.”

—Assata Shakur, letter on her sixtieth birthday, 2008

Today’s trinkets are much more expensive
we pay to be branded with corp.s names
we wear
billboards for owners,

all the lovely trinkets: charmed bracelets

August 2008

Marilyn Buck (1947-2010) spent over twenty-five years in prison for politically motivated actions against U.S. government policies and in support of the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army. She wrote these poems behind bars, as a way to comprehend the reality of prison and continue her fight as a white woman against injustice, particularly U.S.-generated white supremacy. Paroled in July 2010, she died of cancer twenty days after her release.

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