by Marcus Pettiford
Just when I thought it was possible, and beginning to feel optimistic… I was sadly reminded that God does not save the ghetto. Ironic laughs with tearful smiles. Late night fist fights, and daylight gun shot victims. Please God save the ghetto. Liquor bottles a quarter full, smoke filled air. Young boys that can not spell, but count currency fairly well. Heroin addicted uncles, 45 year old great grandmothers. Dear God, why don’t you save the ghetto? The State washed up the last wave of us with life sentences. The wave before that with gun violence. The wave prior to that with drug addiction. The block’s tears still have not dried up yet. The news of another fallen soldier made us drop to our knees. So, the elderly women go to church on Sundays, and the young ones beg for a cease fire. Old men don’t exist around here. Everyone knows that men do not grow old in the ghetto. We bow our heads, day drink, sell promises of paradise in small vials with colored tops, and escape every time the fire lights a backwood. This shit got to cause cancer. Has God ever lived in a ghetto? A lost cause filled with desperation & desolate roads. Genius Black minds filled with bullet holes. I swear that I’ve got lead poisoning. God do you know how to find a ghetto? A drunk woman reassures me, “we are all going to Hell.” Another terrible “gut punch” to my optimism, and hopes of a better future. Her consumption is double the legal limit. “Poor thing,” she does not understand that her roots are planted in Hell. God can you free us from the ghetto? The alcohol exacerbates our anger, and reveals the pain of past generations. Drugs suppress our trauma, so we continue to medicate. We hurt, then get high. We get high then fall ill. God is it possible to feel good in the ghetto? We hug, we mourn the deaths of our babies, we even say goodbye. God, why aren’t we treated like humans in the ghetto? We possess innocence, we pray for relief, we have dreams, raise our children to love the neighbor. God, help us make a Heaven in the ghetto!
Marcus Pettiford is an artist in JAC’s network. Check out his portfolio here, and read more about him and hear him talk about this piece inJuly’s Artist Spotlight.