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PLUNDER by Nadine Marshall

the ship conquers the sea

and the sea conquers

the body

and the body

does not bare its teeth

when it chooses to jump

the soul does not give

to what isn’t meant to consume it

Oh God, let the waves

wash this moment

and the salt

allows the man/woman

to keep their names

given to them in a language

that keeps a homeland anchored

and for the rest

iron shackled sailing

to a new land

claims discovered by a man

who knows plunder (well)

living bodies

covered in the stench of urine soaked


beaten until the name

is a whimper

and the tribe

a dream in pieces

and the homeland

too far to run back to


the heat conquers the land

and the land does not conquer the body

the body is then conquered by a whip

sweat dance

against the skin

bellies fed the scraps

of a pig

and the memory

of home becomes a

mirage (of sorts)

a child

will only be a child

for so long

before he is sold

three times

maybe more


what will never belong

to him there

and when the spirit falls

he becomes preacher man

preacher man say

Christ laid down the yoke

he had borne for the sins of men

take on the fight against the Serpent

and his momma birthed him a prophet

so it is written

so it shall be done

moon veiled

for the moment

55 white men

target practice

and killed

at the hands

of their own guns

and this


the work of God


Oh /this land of / a / massacre / black bodies / unworthy of a gravestone / cities built / atop / the bones of our ancestors / killer of / Martin and Malcom and Huey and Tupac / Cointelpro / martyr / unfit for the tongue /


When this land says hunger

When this land says thirst

It’s borders

only know

the bodies it


Malice Green 1992 Detroit, MI. Amadou Diallo 19 shots 1999 New York, NY. Malcom Ferguson 2000 New York, NY. Patrick Dorismond 2000 New York, NY. Prince Jones 8 shots 2000 Fairfax County, VA. Timothy Thomas 2001 Cincinnati, OH. Ousmane Zongo 4 shots 2003 New York, NY. Timothy Stansbury 2004 New York, NY. Ronald Madison, James Brisette 2005 New Orleans, LA. Henry Glover shot then Burned 2005 New Orleans, LA. Sean Bell 50 shots 2006 New York, NY. DeAunta Terrel Farrow 2007 West Memphis, ARK. Oscar Grant 1 shot 2009 Oakland, CA. Shem Walker 2009 New York, NY. Aaron Campbell 2010 Portland, Ore. Steven Eugene Washington 2010 Los Angeles, CA. Aiyana Jones 2010 Detroit, MI. Danroy Henry 2010 Thornwood, NY. Derrick Jones 6 shots 2010 Oakland, CA. Raheim Brown 5 shots 2011 Oakland, Ca. Kenneth Chamberlain 2 Shots 2011 White Plains, NY. Ramarely Graham 2012 New York, NY. Sgt. Manuel Loggins 3 shots 2012 Orange County, Ca. Dante Price 17 shots 2012 Dayton, OH. Wendell Allen 2012 New Orleans, LA. Rekia Boyd 1 shot 2012 Chicago, IL. Kendrec McDade 7 shots 2012 Pasadena, CA. Kimani Gray 11 rounds 2013 New York, NY. Jonathan Ferrell 10 shots 2013 Bradfield Farms, N.C. Yvette Smith 2014 Bastrop, TX. Eric Garner Choked 2014 New York, NY. John Crawford 2014 Beavercreek, OH. Michael Brown 2014 Ferguson, MO. Kajieme Powel 2014 St. Louis, MO. Akia Gurley 2014 Brooklyn, NY. Tamir Rice 2014 Cleveland, OH. Rumain Brisbon 2014 Phoenix, AZ. Calvon Adreleus Reid 2015 Coconut Creek, FL. Tony Robinson 2015 Madison, WI. Anthony Hill 2015 Atlanta, GA. Brandon Jones 2015 Cleveland, OH. Philip White Beaten 2015 Vineland, NJ. Anthony Damone 2015 Detroit, MI. Walter Scott 8 shots 2015 North Charleston, SC. Eric Harris 2015 Tulsa, OK. Alton Sterling, Baton Rouge, LA, 4 shots. Philando Castile, Falcon Heights, MN, 5 shots.

*This quote is taken from Nat Turner’s confession on the 1831 slave rebellion which took place on a Southampton Plantation


What does the title, “Emerging poet,” mean to you?

I grapple with what it means to be an “Emerging poet”. In many ways, the title (to me) suggests that a poet is both arriving and still becoming. As artists, we are always evolving in our craft in a way which also suggests that title to include the visibility of a poet to others within the community.

Do you consider yourself an “emerging” poet? Why or why not?

I don’t know that I would call myself an “emerging” poet. I believe that my work is evolving in many ways and that finding my voice in poetry is ongoing. With each poem, I learn something new and I learn more ways to be honest with myself before choosing to be honest with the world. So, overall I feel that I am constantly emerging as an artist despite who gives me that title.

What do you think it takes to be “recognized” in the poetry community?

To be “recognized” in the poetry community an artist must be present in some way, whether that is on social media, in the slam scene, or in publishing. Recognition in the poetry community also depends on who you know within the community, if a poet hasn’t built relationships with people who have a “name” then it becomes easy for that artist to be thrown in the background of the community.

How do you think power politics shape the poetry community?

I think power politics shapes the poetry community by controlling who is seen and who isn’t seen. The advantage of having recognition in the community leads to leveraging that power to gain visibility in multiple spheres as well as granting visibility to new artist to the community. Nepotism is how most poets get shut out of opportunities.

What does community mean to you?

Community is very important to me, it’s how we grow as people and as artists. For me, a community is a dynamic system of mutual connection, of sharing and building with each other, of grieving and healing. It’s a collective defense against threats, a sense of belonging, and the willingness to confront challenges to grow in unity.


NADINE MARSHALL is an African American spoken word artist born and raised in Detroit, MI. As a Master in Social Work, she hopes to pursue her passion to uplift, bridge, and build minority communities through creative platforms. She has appeared at The College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational 2011 & 2012, Detroit’s Got Talent, The Ontario International Poetry Slam, Ann Arbor Poetry & Slam, The National Poetry Slam Competition in Oakland, CA, and The Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam in Columbus, OH. Nadine is currently working on laying the foundation to build a literary and visual arts project geared toward engaging Detroit's archives.


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