We’ve All Got Eyes, Man By Talicha Johnson

We’ve All Got Eyes, Man

after Sharon Olds

This truth is a raided home left ransacked,
its innards splintered by trigger-happy men

waving badges like permission slips to leave
blood seeping into patches of public housing lawns.

Black life gushes onto pavement, spilling
like overturned cartons of milk.

We aren’t supposed
 to cry though,
not when they say it was an accident,

they were startled by a noise in the stairwell,
they thought the wallet was loaded,

or that the twelve-year-old boy with
the toy gun was quicker on the draw.

We aren’t supposed to ask questions,
let them shoot first. Believe the Blue,

even when it’s covered in a Red that is not their own.
Watch how they celebrate

with streamers of jaundiced caution tape
while the wail of sirens and bruised

lights—still miles away—are all that wraps
around the stolen body, an exhibition.

There is no comfort.
Hardly ever an indictment.

We aren’t supposed to riot though.
Or call them racists, demand justice,

march in the streets chanting
the names of those they have taken.

We are tired of our truth getting broken into.
Tired of it being shot

through with bullets. Swept under the rug.
We aren’t supposed to notice though,

but we’ve all got eyes, man.
We’ve all got eyes.

By Talicha Johnson


Talicha Johnson is an American poet and an aspiring novelist. She was a member of Charlotte’s Respect Da Mic Slam team in 2010, and has competed on a national level at both the Women of the World Poetry Slam and the Individual World Poetry Slam. Her work has appeared in Germ Magazine, The Four Quarters Magazine, The Legendary and Boston Poetry Magazine.

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