On-Deck a Stacked Deck  (or, 

The deck is stacked 

When you are Black.

Even if you are allowed 

To play with the pack, 

Or given relief 

To step from the back: 

The deck IS stacked. 
Why try to play at all? 

With them? 

Because the way forward 

Is to move as one, 

In tandem. 

With them. 
But, they don’t play fair!

But, They always play fear! 
I understand the way you feel. 

They don’t. 


They won’t! 


I am who I am; 

You are who you are; 

They are who they are; 

We are who we are! 


We all can be so much more!

We all won’t be 

If we all don’t see… 

It’s a we thing, it’s an us thing 

Not a hustling! 

So any bustling, any tussling, 

Any muscling: 

Should be 

Toward the us thing. 


That’s the right thing, 

The bright thing. 

Not the fuss and fight thing! 

We are so far to the back, 

With much to set aside, 

To put aside, 

To cross this divide

Where we can stand beside 

The Pack. 

To stand ON deck 

With THE deck. 

We are so far to the rear 

That our voices are hard to hear. 

So far to the rear it bears a fear  

That our voice will disappear. 

You hear! 

You here! 

You hear! 

So far to the rear.
And so…




So, we sound angry.

Because we shout. 

We sound unhappy. 

Because we shout. 

We sound desperate. 

Because we shout.

So much so, that sometimes, 

We’re ashamed of the shouts. 

Ashamed of the cryings out. 

Ashamed because, 

I’m ashamed to say, 

Some of us have gotten 


With that feeling that we’ve 


Feeling we’ve become as one, 

With the stacked deck. 
We’ve drawn a curtain over our eyes, 

A curtain that lies and tries to hide “us” from “them”;

A curtain that lies and tries to hide 

That “Us”  IS  “Them” !

“We”  ARE  “Them” ! 
We’ve become as one with the stacked deck. 

 A deck that is two-faced. 

A deck that might never be


Not to your face, nor my face. 

At times, 

Not even to their own face, 

When faced down 

By their own race.
” We” are who “We” are! 

No matter how civilized we become, we are a part of them; 

A part of the shame that is them.

The shame that is us…


From the back of the bus. 
Vulgar. Crass. Loud. Untamed. 

That shouting.

That’s us. A part of us. 

From a place so dark, so painful, 

So indescribably undesirable

It breeds a sea of emotions; 





A fire fanned by hatred, 

By Love, 

By doubt,

By self-doubt, 

By Blood.

A fire so uncontrollable, 

It burns even the Firestarters, 

At times. 

Even the “Civilized”, 

At times. 

Even the players at Poker, 

At times. 

Even the Jokers, 

At times. 
So, with curtains undrawn, 

Take a step to the back 

To help those of same suit, 

Yes! Those Brutes! 

Them Spades!

Extend your hand 

To pull them forward. 

To make a line. 

To form a line. 

Not one’s line, but one line.

One kind. On this line. 

For, without this line, 

We’ll forever toe the line. 

Their line. 

A line, mind, 

That is so unkind 

When it,  you’re behind.
We need an ‘Us’ to join ‘Them’. 
There’s no I in we, 

Can you not see? 

We need to be US to join them.


We must be our own  “We” 

Before we become The we, 

The true we.  
A deck is of no use 

Short one suit. 

A deck short of cards is akin 

To a bird with one wing. 

It can never realize its full potential. 
After all, can you not see? 

Can they not see? 

Can we not see 

What it’ll be? 
There’ll never be an Us, 

A true WE, 

Till We realize 

There are no I’s  

In We !


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