Putting Mice Before Men

The following poems were written by individuals incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, CA and Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, CA. Some of the authors are poetry and drama students from the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) put on by Agustin Lira and Patricia Wells Solorzano. We invite you to receive with open hearts and minds the poetry of Tim Young.

Putting Mice Before Men

By Tim Young

On every channel, I have seen them grieve

They are seethingly at odds with U.C. Berkeley

Apparently, someone sought to uproot the trees

They pissed/they are peeved/

They squawk about preserving the trees

They squat/they refuse to leave/

They literally live in the trees

Life or limb they vow to protect the trees

They seek understanding/empathy

Meanwhile the State of California

Celebrates my wrongful conviction and intends to kill me!

From Death Row, I languish in disbelief,

Wishing I was just as cherished and esteemed

As one of the damn “Oak Trees!”

On every channel, I have seen them grieve

A blind man could see their hypocrisy;

For had “Cecil the Lion” been “Cecil the Negro”

His demise would not have been lionized

In fact, he’d be just one more nappy-headed

“Superpredator” that was “brought to a heel…”

I have seen them grieve…

Americans wept over the death of Harambe, the silver-back gorilla,

But never did they weep for the likes of:

Trayvon Martin, Laquan McDonald, Alton Sterling, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Akai Gurley, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Michael Brown, Kenneth Harding, Philando Castile, Alex Nieto, Mario Woods, or Tamir Rice!

For all my days, I have seen them,

Endeavoring to be green and save non-human things:

The Whales

The Beaches

The Dolphins

The Wetlands and Marshes

The Owls

The Ozone

Even Lab Rats and Rodents

The Condors

The Eagles

And yes, the precious Trees

It is an unconscionable sin

Putting mice before men,

But many have I seen

Treating pets better than human beings;

And though they’re quick to pamper “Fido”

They historically ignore the plight of the “Negro!”

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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