Let Me Start Over: a poem

Let Me Start Over: a poem

poem by Robyn Hammontree



let me start over

i’ll try to say less of what i mean

if you can just try to be less mean

to everyone

i’m sorry is that demeaning

to you

let me explain what i’m trying to do

how i’m placing words in just the right place

so as to not offend you when i tell you

how offensive you are

but you don’t let me get that far

before you tell me

talk less smile more


let me start over

let me go back to the slave ships and burn them down

before we crowd them with bodies

make them our hobbies

carry them across the sea

steal their history


let me start over

before we

hang them from trees

set them "free"

set them apart

steal their art

crush their hearts

pack them in cells

create this hell

on earth


let me start over

try to say this more nicely

so you don’t get so icy

when I explain privilege

let me wrap it in tissue

so when I bring up an issue

you won’t snap

make it sound like


you didn’t do a thing

you just happened to bring

the rope

it’s not like you did it

but it’s not like you didn’t


let me start over

before i

ask you hey

did you ever think about it this way

before i

ask you

when’s the last time

a black life mattered to you

let me start over

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