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By Maketa Smith-Groves

My mind has a landscape that could not form

anywhere except America.


This is the Diaspora

the vastness in my soul

like an African desert

forever roamed:


This Detroit memory of

my father’s

twelve gauge blasting

away wall/and blood splattered rats

my father’s rage that he could not prevent

this horror/this poverty/cleaving


Mississippi mud and

KKK raids



Shooting rats late at night

rats the size of footballs

scampering over sleeping bodies of

siblings and I

this profound rage and

desecration by the rats

(for sleeping children are sacred ground)

filled me with my father’s rage


I have raged ever since.

Maketa Smith-Groves is a native of Detroit, Michigan, lived in California for many decades and currently divides her time between the U.S. and Europe. This poem is excerpted from her new collection of poems, Class Encounters, published by Freedom Voices (