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Lemon Andersen just wrote an amazing poem called “Noose York.”

The poet famous for his time on Def Poetry Jam penned this piece for The Nation. Check it out below. 

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  • Waiting for a Crown Victoria
  • on the corner of Central & Putnam
  • in the Bushwick section of Old Medina
  • Waiting here on the corner
  • for a Crown Victoria which finally shows up
  • after running past a traffic light
  • without the thought of a fast child
  • crossing the street
  • chasing her mother’s milk
  • grocery list in hand.
  • Pulling up to a hard stop
  • heavy-footed brake
  • The car doors unlock in a dominos spill.
  • The driver jumps out
  • points his finger and barks,
  • “What are you doing here,
  • got any drugs on you buddy?”
  •  
  • This is not the cab
  • I was waiting for,
  • not the Spanglish taxi man
  • who always tells me on my way to JFK
  • I could get more bang
  • for my dollar Americano
  • if I spend my money in DR.
  •  
  • “Static, static”
  •  
  • His partner
  • who jumps out of the passenger side
  • with a walkie-talkie chirping
  • is shaped like a radio DJ
  • Too many crack-of-dawn diners in his blood
  • He grips his pistol and also barks,
  • “Hey big guy, where were you coming from?”
  •  
  • The kids up the block
  • take their eyes off the moon
  • and I am center stage
  • under that same moon, luminous
  • against the storefront dry cleaner,
  • shoved toward the cold glass
  • by the hype man behind the badge
  • face pressed tough against the cold glass,
  • needle-and-thread neon sign rat-a-tat-tatting.
  •  
  • I stare at the Selena-shaped tailor sewing inside.
  • Wanting to speak, even if I stutter,
  • I still have to utter the words
  • to these officers
  • for those kids who were staring at the moon,
  • for their older brothers,
  • their uncles dragging their backaches
  • back from a prideful hard day’s labor.
  •  
  • Wanting to speak for them with valor
  • capture for these blue bloods
  • the beautiful confidence
  • snatched every day on this corner
  • I pull out the heart to say,
  • “Yes sir, no…”
  •  
  • An empty can crooning,
  • “No sir, yes…”
  • The rhythmless words cut off by the rattlesnakes
  • these nerves cut short by the quotas
  • because history on this corner has proven
  • that collars have to be made
  • by the end of the month
  • and these backward numbers have nothing
  • in common with real suspects
  • real crimes
  • Like outta-town gun laws and Walmart shoppers.
  •  
  • I go over the speech in my head
  • “What are you going to arrest me for, officers?”
  • Shit, that’s easy.
  • “Do I look suspicious by the trends I wear
  • for standing on the corner waiting for a cab?
  • On the corner of a street you don’t own…”
  • Damn, too liberal.
  • “Sir, why do these men
  • only get stopped for being black,
  • for owning their brown skin?”
  • That is it! That’s the stinger.
  •  
  • But just then
  • the radio DJ checks my chin and my pockets
  • while his partner
  • kicks my legs wide and to the side,
  • and I finally yell out,
  • “Do you even know who Israel Putnam was?!”
  •  
  • Intermission…
  •  
  • Do you know this corner was named after
  • an American revolutionary
  • who killed the last remaining wolf of
  • Connecticut in a town called Brooklyn?
  • You wouldn’t know that, hype man,
  • cause you did not go to school
  • to research the beat of your streets
  • to uphold the law
  • That’s right, this same corner
  • where your guns make me feel like
  • breathing air is a felony waiting to happen.
  •  
  • Is it because of the way we look?
  • How does this deep hooded sweater
  • I wear over my head
  • come with a license for you to kill
  • when I wear it to block out the frozen world
  • while the projects are overheated.
  • Maybe it’s my sneakers
  • I bought them for running,
  • but if I run we all know what happens next.
  • It can’t be the color of my skin
  • when you both look like distant cousins
  • If you go back far enough, aren’t we all…
  •  
  • Then again maybe not,
  • cause in my family we were raised
  • not to point at people
  • especially at officers
  • cause they don’t point back with their fingers.
  •  
  • You want to stop and frisk someone,
  • stop and frisk the mayor
  • cause his pockets
  • are low and his money is high
  • and the teachers are as broke as a joke.
  • You will get more out of his spare change
  • than what you can get
  • out of these rabbit ears right now.
  • You want to arrest somebody
  • go arrest that new neighbor across the street,
  • the one right there double-timing it
  • with the checkers-game flannel shirt
  • that could be mistaken for gang colors on me.
  •  
  • Arrest him
  • for not helping the doña next door
  • with her bags of empanada ingredients
  • up the stairs
  • cause he is too busy constructing,
  • plotting a blueprint plan
  • to open up a Vietnamese restaurant
  • run by Mexicans,
  • when Doña Margo been dodging hollow tips
  • right here,
  • on the corner of Central & Putnam
  • right here,
  • when your precinct wouldn’t even drive
  • down this block thirty years ago.
  •  
  • You want to arrest me,
  • arrest me for being honest
  • cause I was lying before.
  • The words never came out,
  • never blossomed…. Never. 
  • Too scared of this new city
  • pushing me out
  • Too many front-page posts
  • warning me
  • it will be my word against yours
  • The truth is that you know like I know
  • that a law like stop-and-frisk
  • is built to send
  • more Puerto Ricans to Orlando
  • Blacks to Camden
  • and the Dominicans
  • to Amish country, Pennsylvania
  • But they will be back when it’s over.
  • Cause they gotta go home
  • We all gotta go home.

Get more of Lemon’s poetry by watching the award-winning documentary LEMON on Hulu