“Catch” by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

For Marilyn Buck in Black August

preacher’s daughter[1]

what is a wall

what blooms beyond the body

what is left


you could write a letter

into dandelion wish

thread hope into green garlands


to wear catechism loose

form everyday practice

life lost nurturing life eternal


what is a wall

patient gardener of the word yes

unwilling to wait for the language

we could say it in


what is a fist

what blooms in explosion

in excelsis

in the decision to risk everything

and never take it back


poisoned decades

flowering furiously

into cancer


answer me this



you who can never again be





where do they grow

white girls like you

awake and ready

to catch hell with both hands open


what is a wall

what blooms

what is left

[1]  Assata Shakur (freed from prison by Buck’s action in concert with the Black Liberation Army) wrote:  When I think of Marilyn as a preacher’s daughter, I think of her as someone who wrestled with the moral problems of our times and who was not afraid to take principled positions around those issues.

Marilyn had a choice. She could have remained silent; she could have reaped the benefits of white-skin privilege. But instead she chose the path of righteousness. She has defended the have-nots, the powerless, and as a woman she has struggled for the liberation of all women. The only reason that she remains incarcerated is because of her political activism.

She needs and deserves the support of all those who are committed to freedom and the abolition of pain and suffering on this earth. She deserves to be supported, she deserves to be respected, and she deserves to be free.

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1 Response to “Catch” by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

  1. mgwizard says:

    Thanks to Allen Silverstone, a Board member of the Davis-Putter Fund, for bringing this poem to my attention! Funny story: I met Allen years ago — at an event I attended with Marilyn. We lost touch. Years later, D-PF helped with some of her educational expenses, and she recommended the Fund to Youth Emergency Service, a non-profit on whose Board I serve. On D-PF’s letterhead, I was pleased to find the name of an old friend! Now Allen brings us into touch with Alexis — a new D-PF Board member, and we see Marilyn’s influence continuing to weave a pattern of friendship and shared struggle!

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