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You sat behind me
In Mr. Landstrom’s geography class,
You had the most beautiful eyes,
A mix of brown, yellow and green
You were so popular,
Everyone knew you
You were always cracking jokes,
The life of the class
And then… you weren’t.
You got kicked out of Central,
Sent to Parrish instead
It said on news stations everywhere,
That you were dead.
I guess you had gotten in a fight
With some older guys from school
Over something dumb,
Something you didn’t need to fight over
One of them hit you,
You went down,
Hit the pavement.
You never woke up.
You were in a coma for four days
And then they took you off life support.
You weren’t there for prom,
To laugh with your homies
At the ridiculous decorations
You weren’t there to watch your brother
Walk across the stage at graduation,
To cheer him on in the crowd
Did not graduate
With the class of 2016,
With James, with all of your friends,
Stuck in the year 2014.
I cringe now
When I see people
Jokingly throw up gang signs
And even though your death
Was not gang related,
If you would have lived in a better neighborhood,
Where the gangs weren’t there,
Where you didn’t feel pressured to join one,
Where you didn’t feel
That a fight would solve this problem,
Maybe you would still be alive…
I know that I do not know you.
And I’m sure if you ever saw this,
You would laugh at me,
Because I know nothing about your world,
About all the hardships you endured.
But since your death,
I’ve become more aware
Of how much of a joke people make violence out to be.
I take it personally now,
It bothers me now.
And I know that they do not mean to offend,
That throwing up gang signs
Is just a joke
But it wasn’t a joke
When you died.
Who was laughing then?