How to strangle a smile: A poem for Baltimore’s Christopher Brown

By Brion Gill | Culture

Nov 14
Christopher Brown (17) was a Baltimore teenager who was brutally murdered by a Baltimore County police officer in June 2012.

Christopher Brown (17) was a Baltimore teenager who was brutally murdered by a Baltimore County police officer in June 2012.

Giggles are getting stomped out.

Stern boots to the sternum of a chest filled with snickering

Smirks are suffocating

Cuz like fire, smiles need the oxygen of laughter to remain alive

But practical jokes lead to choke holds

So the infernos ablaze in youthful souls are flickering

Memories of pebble stone rocks and chalk lined hopscotch are stained with chalk outlined bodies and emptied glocks

Skittles and ice tea become devastating recollections

When lives are ended during adolescence

Mama’s tears never dry

Creating cracks cross her cheeks that crush her smile weakened by a trial that looks bleak

The essence of juvenescence is out of breath

Asphyxiated by the need to suppress Black happiness

Forever waiting to exhale in hopes that no one will catch them slippin’

Children, Submerged in societal troubled waters drippin’

Babies in muddy puddles drowning

Literally breathless

As mothers reminisce on nostalgic moments

Can you imagine

The last day you’ll ever see your child?

The last time cheeks kisses will dial the number to your heart

Cackling echoes still snug in the crevices of wall parts

The smell of joy still lining your neck from your last hug

A Last minute “I love you” entangled in footsteps out the door just because…

She showed her teeth a lot more then

Now perched lips match the lines on her forehead

I wonder how many times she contemplated

If only she had taught him to play less

To put boyhood aside and focus on staying a live as best you can

Cuz they play no games with skin containing too much melanin

Rocks against a brick edifice

Lead to a boulder of anger

Rolling over a young boys path

An off duty officer, mad at the neighborhood boys for disrespecting his house

He ran out wearing him humanity doused in ego or his sleeve

He know he got’s to teach these young boys a lesson so they’d leave his block be

Doesn’t sound like he was following police protocol to me

No cuff, no siren, no blue, no Miranda rights read, no idea cops be chasing you

Just plain old pursuit

So Chris run and hid like non-aggressive young boys do

Now Chris dead and officer protected by the badge

That was never displayed for view

Him grabbed Chris up in a sleeper hold till he turned blue

Till he Snatched the sunshine and starlets out his eyes

A smile, smothered by a stone cold grip

Till his lips were life less

Unable to muster nothing more

He remains a tombstone script

I wonder if the office took the time to meet his residents would this have happened

Chris only lived a few block away

But cops are trained to subdue and diffuse

Never to enliven or rekindle

The goal is to keep our communities dead

So his lungs he never breathed into…

Cuz when you put a black child in the hands of those blue suits sworn to serve and protect

They’ll strangle a smile into a hollow shell…

© Brion Gill, 2013

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About the Author

Brion Gill (also known by her stage name: Lady Brion) is the Resident Poet for LBS. She is a former debater and alumni of Howard University. Brion is also an accomplished performer and entrepreneur.She has been writing and performing poetry since age 14 and performed her poetry all around the United States and internationally. She is also the Poet Laureate of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church.