The last poem of Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa

mondo-we-langa

Michael Richardson March 13, 2016

Political prisoner Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa (former David Rice) died March 11 at the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary. Mondo suffered from respiratory failure after forty-five long years in prison for a crime he denied, the murder of an Omaha policeman.

Mondo had been targeted, along with fellow inmate Edward Poindexter, by both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and agents of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division, because of affiliation with the Black Panther Party. Convicted after a controversial trial in 1971 that was marred by withheld evidence by the FBI, tampered evidence by ATF, and conflicting police testimony, the men became known as the Omaha Two.

Mondo stayed engaged in the outside world commenting on current events with essays and poetry. Two weeks before his death, Mondo mailed out a poem entitled “When It Gets To This Point” about shootings of unarmed black men around the country. Mondo’s last poem follows:

Michael Brown?
I had never heard of him
had never heard of anything he’d done
before the news of his death came
whoever he might have become
whatever he might have achieved
had he lived longer
not been riddled lifeless by
bullets from Darren Wilson’s gun
and crumpled on the pavement of a ferguson street
for more than four hours in
the heat of that august day
and before
I’d never known of Trayvon Martin
had known nothing of who he was
until I learned of his demise
and cause of death
a bullet to the chest
George Zimmerman, the shooter
a badge-less, pretend police
with a pistol
and fear of the darkness
Trayvon’s darkness
and after a while
the pictures, the names,
the circumstances
run together
like so much colored laundry in the wash
that bleeds on whites
was it Eric Garner or Tamir Rice
who was twelve but seen as twenty
Hulk Hogan or The Hulk
with demonic eyes it was said
who shrank the cop in ferguson
into a five-year-old who
had to shoot
and John Crawford the third
in a walmart store aisle
an air rifle in his hands he’d picked up
from the shelf
and held in the open
in an open-carry state
was it John or someone else
killed supposedly by mistake
in a dark stairwell
I know Akai Gurley fell
I hadn’t heard of him before
nor of Amadou Diallo or Sean Bell
prior to their killings
which of these two took slugs in the greater number
I don’t recall
my memory is too encumbered
with the names
of so many before and since
the frequent news reports of
non-arrests, non-indictments,
non-true bills
and duplicitous presentations by “experts in the field”
the consultants put out front
to explain away
that which is so often plain as day
to coax and convince us that we’re the ones
who can’s see straight and
can’t hear clearly
who are the ones replacing facts with spin
to mislead and mystify
as the beatings and the chokings and shootings
of our boys and men
by these wrong arms of the law
proceed in orderly fashion
before the sometimes sad
sometimes angry faces of
our uncertain
our hesitant
disbelief.

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