The New Jim Crow Pantoum

Charles Payne

Photo from Pexels.com by Pixabay

Imagine a large herd of zebras grazing on grassy green pastures
From the scrub, a Lion sprints towards the optical illusion of black and white stripes
Instincts strike, we dash like a gust of wind from a violent storm
thunderous dazzle of striped flesh in motion, but the Lion continues its pursuit of meat

From the scrub, a Lion sprints towards the optical illusion of black and white stripes
a subset of diagonal stripes loses its herd, stripes stop moving up or down
the Lion pounces on this picturesque painting of stripes
Lion snaps bones like weak plywood; rips skin like a canvas from its frame

A subset of diagonal stripes loses its herd, stripes stop moving up or down
spectators watch from a safe distance
Lion snaps bones like weak plywood; rips skin like a canvas from its frame
jaws clamp around neck remove air from lungs

spectators watch from a safe distance
pressure breaks spine like dead weight upon rope
jaws clamp around neck remove air from lungs
Unable to fight back; they have no known predators.


Charles Payne is a Wisconsin transplant, a certified teacher, and a self-taught spoken word artist. His work explores personal narrative and social commentary. He is the firstborn of a strict father and na├»ve mother. As a child, Charles loved hearing the sound of Paul Harvey’s voice, whose innate ability to describe every intricate detail truly inspired Charles to tell stories himself. And yes, he can’t wait to give you the rest of the story.

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