the civil war of 2004 

by Chris "L7" Cuadrado

The Civil War of 2004


Inglewood, California

The day blistered atop its children

The sun cooking tensions and traumas

In the bodies of black and brown youth


Its lunchtime for kids who know hunger well


We still find time to be young

And at play

You know that game

It doesn’t really have a name

But if I’d call it anything

It would be “tackle the dude with the ball!”

It starts off as nice and friendly

As teenage boys will allow anything to be


But the sky put fire to our frustrations

And disrespect

Becomes declaration

Drums and horns are sounding off

And the messengers are shooting at each other

The black and brown boys have taken sides

Two walls of death running towards each other

The original people vs. the people of the corn

Fighting in a field

Fenced and foreshadowing

A future America’s dreaming


And for 3 days everything within a mile radius was a warzone

I may have dodged the draft but and we all had targets

Whether or not we enlisted


We were exactly where we are supposed to be

Digging more trenches out our neighborhood


And no one knows how it started

He said, that she said, that they said

That the black boys told the brown boys to go back to their country

That the brown boys told the black boys to go pick cotton

That the black boy

Said the brown boy’s back was soaked

That the brown boy

Called the black boy property

Only in different words

The kind our bodies have nerve endings for

The kind that feel like a fraction of the whip

Or a piece of the sword

Or any of the things

That has been used to open flesh like ours


Syllables for slavery

Diction for divides and conquers


A type of language

That takes away our ability to speak ourselves person


And instead teach us to give ourselves names

Fit for something that is already dead


But I have ripped out that part of my tongue

And walked away from any battle

Against my brothers

Any fight

That asks them for something

They did not take from us


Step towards them

And away from the white man’s legacy

Embrace our cousins

In my first act of war

Against anti-blackness

Against the notion

That our liberation is not entwined

Affirm this brown skin

Stepped out from the original people

As another gift that blackness gives to the world

Language of the Unheard


I wanna light up some relief

I wanna set fire to the beast

I wanna dance in these streets

Like they've always been ours

I wanna flip ova' some police cars

I wanna riot with you tonight

Come on and put up a fight

We gotta' struggle for our love to live tonight

I wanna riot with you tonight


The riots of 21st century

Have been characterized as a violent time

When the savages come

To cause death, destruction and freedoms demise

But the truth is we've only come to end this way of living

The savages you've seen

Were the spectrums of black and brown bodies


Fangs out

fighting in their present

for memories of the past

that promises their future


To preserve the thoughts and orders

whispered by the seas and trees

of the earth that cradles them


A riot

is not about knowing

in any certain terms

what to with the fire of a hungry belly

but instead knowing injustice

long enough to turn buckling knees

back into the dust of creation


A riot is the human animal in a herd of strangers,

being stalked by wolves in pigs clothing,

whose name you can actually know,

written on their chest for the public to see their servitude


A riot is sincere citizens

being strung along spectrums of feeling

from ecstasy to misery

their shackles scrapping,

scrapping, scrapping

against colonizers concrete

their chains rattling together

in the familiar melody of an old spiritual

that sounds like mutiny on the high seas


A riot is a collection of disempowered people,

silenced, gathered in need of healing

Taking their prayers to the streets

but you won't see anyone kneeling

to any gods or masters,

who used human hammers

to forge worldly disasters

Pulling puppet strings of news broadcasters

who never report sincerely of what lives really matters


A riot is irrational, as the subjects of subjugation

have been stripped of their ancient reason

made to run faster and faster

to stay in the same place

and then are told

that the advent of the wheel is their reward.


A riot is asphyxiation

but we’ve learned speak

with strangled throats

but there are those of us

who vomit words over others stories

and some of us speak

with forked tongues and empty bellies

A riot is polyphony

a chorus of discontent without audience

all of us have been shown we are invisible

all of us have been taught not to listen to each other


A riot is the slave master

trying to take your leg,

as you and your team run relay of revolution.


Slave drivers crack whips and advance paces

Committing war crimes,

violently occupying peacefully liberated spaces,

firing at field medics

while they in the name of justice

police others and us at home

across the world for our frustration.


We are human beings carrying more

than just families on our back being attacked

by animals on horseback,

carrying clubs and canons

made in factories with smoke stacks.


Or more like smoking gun

to match all the times

the police took someone from us.


Uncle Sam’s bastard nieces and nephews

are revolting and their talking to your sons and daughters

and many of them have decided on an overthrow.


A riot is not the violence of the impoverished

but the violence of poverty

It is language of the unheard,

it is a rebellion pending revolution


Chris "L7" Cuadrado


                         contributor 2016 second edition


Chris "L7" Cuadrado is a poet, MC, producer, photographer, graphic artist, director, and community organizer from Inglewood CA, currently based in Santa Cruz, CA. L7 centers his community and oppressed peoples within his work and seeks to challenge and dismantle structures/systems of power that reproduce our oppression.

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