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Thinks & Inks

By @astrid_hartman

Aquilee

You sat behind me 

In Mr. Landstrom’s geography class,

Sophomore year

 

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

 

And then,

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 

 

You… 

Did not graduate 

With the class of 2016,

With us,

With James, with all of your friends, 

Because you 

Are permanently

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?

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