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WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED | Digital Festival O


You gonna stay awhile We got some school to figure out God bless the dead
God bless the families Philadelphia cop James Ramp is killed God bless the dead
God bless the families of the MOVE 9 Locked up and left for dead The MOVE 9 convicted of killing a Philly cop
who was shot in the back of the head But he was facing our home they said Police in Philadelphia,
police in Philadelphia, police! Niggas in Philadelphia,
niggas in Philadelphia, nigga Neighbors complain that MOVE members
were broadcasting messages by bullhorn At all hours of the day and night In addition to concerns their home
was creating a health hazard Philly cops dropped
two one-pound bombs Killin’ in Philadelphia,
killin’ in Philadelphia, killin’ Stand-off in Philadelphia,
stand-off in Philadelphia, stand-off! Stand up in Philadelphia,
stand up in Philadelphia, stand up! No justice in Philadelphia,
not just in Philadelphia, justice No justice in Philadelphia,
not just in Philadelphia, Philly! Children in Philadelphia,
children in Philadelphia, children! No justice in Philadelphia,
not just in Philadelphia, justice No justice in Philadelphia,
not just in Philadelphia, Philly! More justice in Philadelphia,
not just in Philadelphia, justice! Wake up, it’s time to move Listen, it’s time to move This is my body Hiding in it is my spirit Riding in it is my spirit
It is a miracle, isn’t it, Lord? My body was baptized by North Philly,
I carry its stains And pray to a God who ain’t left me a day Through the death of my dad
Through the nights in the shelter My body is a shelter for a delicate spirit This is my body, my ancestors paid for it,
all the ladies pray that they get to lay with it North Philly slayer, player,
really don’t play with it I put my body on the line
because that’s what it takes Like how when I was inside
and I was scared every night John Henry was my bunk-mate Kids came to test me
And John Henry said, over his dead body You were my family
when I had nobody This is my body
and I’m not sure how to carry it My body betrays me Pray for me
I have blood on my hands Blue like a Blackbird
running from the burden of proof If you could see my soul
you would know my body’s truth Somebody pray for me
like my black love matters Blackbird fly
like my black love matters My parents are inmigrantes
My brother didn’t live to see this day I grew up on these streets
Brown girl, I bleed blue I am shaped by loss, and just jaded enough
to stay on the right side of safe I am a trained stoic I was moved first by the girl
who refused me, refused us Didn’t want la solución Told us her school was a trap
for her and her niños Boycotted
Screamed enough Went to the haunted block
where the fire burned all them years ago Refused her teachers Told us she’d rather learn from the ghosts,
los fantasmas Insisted she’d be safer in the ashes
But as it is, she had to move I’ve been there
A young woman Feeling like a victim of the system
That’s why I joined the force Ghetto flower picked and planted in the law I am the Law, I am the Law now Picked even though my parents are immigrants Even though my brother didn’t live to see this day When I wear this badge all that goes away I grew up on these streets
Brown girl, I bleed blue Gotta work twice as hard as my brother cops
to show and prove I am the Law, I am the Law now North Philly bred
West Philly beat Every day I patrol these mostly empty streets It was easy to tell when the kids moved in But I waited to watch their next move But I waited to watch their next move Just in case I had to show and prove No one’s gonna miss Manny anyway I think if we leave, we rat ourselves out
Let’s stay and just let it play out Let’s go to some far away land
where violence doesn’t exist Where could we possibly run to and be safe? What if we turned ourselves in
to a minister of the spirit? What if we turned ourselves in
and prayed for mercy and grace? Let’s disappear from view in the west Blackbird fly
Blackbird sing I fly free When I leave this body This is my body. Trans boy, born girl
I’m becoming a man I want to fly free in a body that loves me I can’t fly like this I gotta move, I gotta move I’m not fixed
A crossroads of violence and guilt and gender I stand betwixt a body unrested I can’t stand still on this spot
I’ve been cursed to It hurts to be still in this body Here stands a family in spring,
united, awaiting its fall There they stood,
come here I call Hear the children left behind,
playing slave revolt on borrowed time Something’s been brewing since ’85,
what you thought was dead is very much alive The last time stood a family in spring,
united, awaiting its fall There they stood Here they stood We the innocent,
hidden secret, original sin Here we come,
our time is coming back again The first and last time I fired my weapon
was my third year on the force Shot a man who could
have been my own family Would I have been a hero
if I didn’t aim first and he instead shot me? Yo Soy Boricua
Philly cop, proud to be Here I am, the Law Heavenly mother
Thank you for helping us run Thank you God that it wasn’t my gun
God, bet you didn’t know I even had one Dear God forgive me that I didn’t go back
to help him, that was somebody’s son Dear God
forgive the blood I let run – Bless this house, Father, and all its holy spirits
– And heal this hand that took a life God heal me Bless this house, Father,
and all its holy spirits And heal this hand that took a life And heal my body so I might do more
than feel myself a man God heal me Thank you God for helping us run Thank you for Un/Sung Thank you for the ghosts that live in this house Protect us Lord from whatever’s out there
on the other side For whom America the beautiful? Little Blackbird caged in your little dark world At an age where all your black girl dreams
should see the daylight Come out now before the red and blue lights Come on down this street
and kiss your little runaway dreams good night And flighty and forgetful Forgotten how far we’ve come
from cotton and cane and the color line Forgot that nobody went through all of that
so you could turn your back And not go to school Let me tell you what I see I see a teenage girl who’s played
the numbers for moms Bites her nails,
tries to read her own palm Thinks I see me a futuro
like the trees the streets are named for She leans against a pole
waiting for the 42 wondering What flowers gon’ grow when she finishes crying
on this patch of ground in the west Who gon’ run through concrete
despite an anxious view of sunset And I see a family being haunted
that think it’s being protected A silly girl who’s seen something that scared her And found safety among the decrepit
amidst a site of trauma Come help these children now Let’s get these niños Get these children out You are gonna stay awhile We got some school to figure out In this cold ring of blood I am laid to rest
Lay me down Taken by the hammer,
man I feel too young to go This black man body
I’m just beginning to know What good is it to have the youngest bones
in the graveyard, Lord What possible good, Lord? I got so much left to do in this body
I got labor and love and hammers left to swing My family’s vision wasn’t bulletproof I’m not ready to die, Lord Black body gone too soon Alone Alone with young strangers
and a gun pointed at me I wasn’t thinking about Thomas Jefferson,
or Mandela, or dancing I wasn’t thinking at all I was connecting I’m so scared Hold on to the fear
Don’t wanna die My body is in between
Body black matters – God bless my brothers and I
– I can see it all I wasn’t thinking at all To the very real feeling
that I was going to die And connecting to a tiny hope
that I could manage to stay alive And then I heard one of the boys say So am I I swore I heard a boy say We’ve got to stay alive Let’s just stay alive, defy the odds Make it out of here alive In defiance I don’t want to die Body black matters More than matters
In between lives Close to death I can see,
I can see everything God bless my brothers and I Somebody save us from the sins of our youth Ghosts teach us how to move next,
ghosts teach us our next move My family I’m so sorry
This is all my fault I’ve been fixed
and you’ve been swept up in my fate Family we make our own fate
Little, put the gun down and pray with me now Little, lay down your burden
Little, lay it down I’m the one with the gun,
I don’t need permission This is what’s safe, this is what’s best I can see black body matter Black Angel as if touched My body supine, the sky, Blackbird Agony, the sky bends I can see everything Suddenly taken Suddenly without a weapon to my name Suddenly, worse,
some unstable niño with a gun And another with a bullet in his shoulder It was . . . Sobering Suddenly it’s clear
it’s gonna take more than prayer Suddenly I wonder
if I still would have been attacked If I’d been born in another body If I’d been born something other than black The one holding the gun
chooses the future for everybody It was . . . Sobering It was . . . Frightening Suddenly I can see everything I smell death in this house Suddenly I can see everything Suddenly I smell death in this house Suddenly
The little white one comes closer and says My name is John
John Little – Do you know why we can’t let you go?
– No I remember sitting on pop’s lap Asking him why he named me Little, he say, My country ’tis of thee Little known truth, my name is destiny
We gonna get out of here by any means Even if it means you die – I’m sorry
– So? It’s important that we stay here now I didn’t believe
this was the right move at first – But something happened that I can’t talk about
– Why? And my sister says, “I know a place
where we can start over, I know a house” And she brings us here and says “We’re gonna start again
listening to the spirit speaking in the ashes” And ma’am, I’m a child of spirit
and at first even I didn’t believe it But now I clearly hear it
Hear them? Ma’am, can you hear them? That’s where the fire’s gonna start again,
fire by rite of pen and ghost-whispering At sunrise every day We’re gonna learn by listening to the spirit of
the gone too soon, to the ghosts of the marooned At sunrise every day Begin to dictate what gets spoken in the ashes,
lessons by light of slave song Wisdom of the been lied to,
the been wronged The fire’s gonna start again,
fire by rite of pen and ghost-whispering At sunrise every day OG say there is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in OG say it’s later than you think OG say I’ve seen the future, baby
and it is murder OG say love your body, baby Love is in your body, baby OG say love yourself, baby OG say self-love leads to sex love OG say time did not reconcile me to my chains It made me familiar with them Say black and hear “yes” Say black and hear “enough” Say “love is the only word
sweeter than black” As if touched by an angel the air quivers
Freedom son delivered as wind Remembering that I am she
Becoming me again Carrying a cancer through cloud and time Bathing it in sea
and meeting me again in flight, as I rise Supine the sky bends in agony An agony so deep the sky bends And I gotta tell you, I felt a spirit
and almost believed hasta I looked up and saw the other little girl
dressed up in the costume of a middling young man Stand with the white one
Little, they called him Stand by him While he pointed my own gun back at me With a hand that didn’t move – Do you have a family, miss?
– I had a familia once Do you understand why we can’t let you go? I understand that your brother
needs help over there And it won’t be much longer
before my brother officers come And when they get here
and you’re still holding my gun Then what, son? It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had to run First time what? Suddenly I can almost see The shape of the most graceful OG Shaped like how I remember
my mom before the drugs Shaped like the blood I let run Suddenly I realize I’ll never have a son I’ll never have true love
I don’t want to die so soon, God Do you know what it means
to protect your family? Do you know what these people have done for me?
How they stand for me? Serve and protect him
Your brother’s wounded Let me serve and protect you
Let me help you out so I can move God protect this family, God stand beside,
God guide, God stand for me I’m the one with the gun
I don’t need permission Do you know what these people
have done for me? This is what’s safe
This is what’s best Killing me with words about the body I got And the man that he was
And the way my body is not Oh, Manny . . . Excuse me, Manny? Manny from the North? From 23rd and Norris? Manny Ramos?! Manny Ramos is the kid I shot And killing him is the real reason
we ran off the block He was killing me with words
about this body I got And the man that he is
And the way my body is not How he could take my body
whether I wanted it or not Manny with the star-shaped scar on his neck? Me and Un/Sung were coming up the block
and we saw Manny blocking Blue’s path And knowing that this path that Blue is on
will force him to fight first or fight back And I’ve heard whispers
about how Manny gets down And I snapped I shot Manny first,
fluid and fearful my spirit costumed the fool Fluidly moral, doing right might mean
making somebody’s son a stain on the sidewalk I’m not fixed
A crossroads of violence and guilt and gender I stand betwixt He was my brother You killed my brother You shot our brother For whom America the beautiful? Spacious skies merely mock the Blackbird
with crippled wing We slice the Blackbird’s throat
and ask her why she does not sing? We ask the Blackbird why she does not fly
While the law walking off with her wings Nothing about life or death is fair
Only fact There was more fear in the air than principle And perhaps, I too, was spooked by the same ghosts
they claimed they could hear And perhaps, I too, was spooked that I hadn’t seen
my brother, mi hermano in years I hadn’t seen him in years
and presumed him to be gone too soon And here stood a familia in spring – We should kill her?
– Don’t be stupid We could wait around to get arrested
and sent away Well I’m not waiting for y’all – Wait!
– Wait for what, John? For you to stop and pray? To whose God, John? Whose name do I cry, John? What justice should I now seek
that I haven’t prayed for yet? We got to move now Our freedom or our death – They will be found you know
– Perhaps but I don’t think so Why you talking all this slave revolt? All this down with the system
All this listen to the missives of cop killer ghosts? Your brother is a killer North Philly is the killer
and young people get bloody And so now this?
Is this your alternative? As good as it gets? On the run and in remorse in a house that’s been
condemned? Un/Sung we’re from the same place You gotta face that this will not end well for you The one holding the gun
chooses the future of everybody What the hell are you trying to prove?
Picture yourself in my shoes Why would I risk it all for you?
And how could I face the brothers in blue if I did? They’re not your brothers
when you take off that uniform Would any of them follow you
into a haunted house And trust you to keep them alive?
And trust you if you told them to believe in some spirits? And you think this is what’s safe and what’s best? I’m asking you to put the gun down I’m asking you for permission to try to survive You’re the one with the gun,
you don’t need anyone’s permission And for the first time, just then,
I actually heard the ghosts They were on to something, these ghosts These agitated spirits
who used to call themselves Africa Who were agitated by America Who understood what was expected of them but
who just wanted The note read,
“Aren’t we capable of something better?” Blackbird fly
Blackbird sing She told me she was sorry
but the only way their lives could matter Was if they were gone No, I didn’t see them burn But I know they chose the fire This time . . .


Reader Comments

  1. I have nothing but love for Opera Philadelphia, and Sarah, and Michael, and David, and David, and everyone there. Family…

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