Tenth grade at C.A. Johnson High School in Columbia, SC was a very transformative year in LaMills Garrett’s life. That year he was in the English class of Mrs. Maurice A. Miles. Mrs. Miles was low on emotion, big on the particulars of language and expression, and excited for students to indulge in the beauty of words and verse with her. She was one of several teachers (Ms. M.L. Kohn and Mr. Steve Stuart) that year to inspire LaMills.
It was in Mrs. Miles’ class where LaMills wrote his first poems. Or at least those that had some value and significance in his mind. Though not consistent, he would go continue to write poetry at various moments in his life with a great appreciation for the confidence gained from the urging, support, and critique of Mrs. Miles. This page hosts a sample of those poems which at times were written out of fun, anger, confusion, doubt, love, perspective, meditation, and a host of other emotions and feelings. In chronological order going from 1993 to 2002.
For perspective on LaMills’ childhood, track http://lamillselementaryyears.weebly.com/
Righteousness or Religion
Yes… God is great and God is good,
Very few would argue that this is true.
But if one dare mentions God’s name- a fight is likely to ensue.
The lives of people are growing extinct
While we deny and dispute what each other may think.
Religion is a custom we cannot forcefully change,
But the separation of people because of their choices must be rearranged.
Whether it be Allah, Jehovah, Jesus, or Moses;
Our problems can’t be solved without our closeness.
So who are we to say, “My god is true!”
When all that we’ve learned is a human’s point of view.
Instead—find your god and grasp him tightly,
And be faithful to him for he is Almighty.
If studying your god teaches you anything
You’ll learn to work with any human-being.
So regardless of religions or the powers that be
If you’re a man of God you can work with me.
So now, we must alleviate the walls we stand behind
And come forth as one nation to improve mankind.
When this is done, all Gods will smile,
And all of our human sacrifices will be proven worth-while.
I’m told of leaders I’ll never meet
I learn of great role models who are six feet deep
So how can I , so young and naïve
Grow to appreciate or even believe
That there men and women who fought to their end
To preserve the pride of a people and their fellow man
It seems the leaders began to notice a trend
Those who spoke up, lives would end
So potential leaders soon became frightened
Cause the deaths of their ancestors will never be forgotten
And those memories send a message to our youth today
Keep your mouth shut and be careful what you say
Now those who are able to help us overcome
Beliefs and ideas have been overrun
By fear and the precedent- “Shut up or be gone.”
So now we cope with fearful fakes
Cause calling them leaders would be a mistake
For they pacify our people with campaign lies
Then run to the suburbs while we agonize
So where do we go from here and to whom do we turn
Should we fight for what we believe
Or sit back and watch our heritage burn
Now I lay me down to bed
I could care less to have another day ahead
The evening is gone and another brother is dead
And if I survive tonight, another day I’ll dread
But “Live to Survive” is the life I’ve led
And my meal to tomorrow will be someone else’s bread
I pray to Lord my soul he’ll hold
Cause with no job or money, I had to leave my household
And to provide for my family; from others I stole
Somehow that habit got out of control
Now the rest of my life is prison and parole
If I should die before a new day
At least a criminal has been cast away
I pray my family has a place to stay
And hopefully my children won’t have to live this way
For as they live their lives; in this grave I’ll lay
I pray to Lord, my Soul he’ll take
I’LL TRULY PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE
Our children pledge allegiance
As you whipped our Kings in the streets.
Our children pledge allegiance to the flag
Ohh that flag! You men the red, black, and green.
No… the red, white, and blue,
The one Negroes have been taught to love
But it won’t give to us what we are due.
To the flag of the United States of America
I’m told it’s with you I belong,
But everytime I try to associate
Incognito informs me my hue is wrong.
Am I a citizen of the Republic for which the flag stands,
Or am I only a member. Please understand.
I would rather cover my heart and raise my right hand sincerely,
Than to play B-ball and eat watermelon- as you see me
One nation under God is what we claim to be;
How can we be a nation if you don’t know me.
I ask not to be the centerpiece of our nation’s plan,
But I wonder how can you acknowledge and respect me until you understand who I am.
Somebody said we are indivisible.
Or did someone lie to me;
Cause regardless where I look
I see a one colored community.
With Liberty and Justice for who?
Well you say for ALL.
But I must question- Who is ALL?
Cause all can’t include me.
If ALL is me teach me my Roots like Alex Haley.
If ALL is me teach me to love myself as did Marcus Garvey.
If ALL is me teach me to govern and rule like Nefertiti.
If ALL is me teach me to express my talents like Bessie and Billie.
According to you,
ALL are the children of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln-
But from none of their descendants am I a son.
So treat me with Liberty and Justice as a citizen, and …
I’ll Truly Pledge Allegiance.
EVERYDAY A DREAM – EVERYDAY A JOURNEY
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. August 28, 1963, those were the opening words for what would be known as the “I Have A Dream” speech. Throughout that speech, we can hear “I have a dream” and “let freedom ring”. But do we internalize what it takes to go from seeing a “Dream” to hearing the “Ring”?
Do we see that the Dream is conception?
The dream is the starter’s gun.
The dream is inauguration.
The dream has just begun.
But dreams weren’t born in 1963,
And they’ll live long beyond you and me.
Real dreams are genuine, as they seem
About past, present, future,
And everything in between.
Dreams were in the minds of Sitting Bull,
And those at Wounded Knee.
Dreams were part of every tribe
From Apache to Zuni.
Dreams were in the minds of Africans
In the hulls of ships,
As they prepared for nightmares
Of auction blocks and slavemasters’ whips.
And Santa Anna had a dream,
Before a treaty at Guadalupe Hidalgo
Which cost his nation almost half its land,
And confined below the Rio.
For all those who saw the Dreams
Would then journey to hear the Ring.
But hearing the Ring wasn’t easy.
The Ring isn’t a gift.
The Ring isn’t donated.
The Ring isn’t an award.
The Ring is the spoils.
The Ring is what’s achieved… after the journey.
The Journey was proving that being of Asian descent, doesn’t mean that one would commit espionage or sabotage, and definitely didn’t warrant the so-called relocation camps.
The Journey was confirming that being Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or Jew doesn’t make anyone …less American.
The Journey was demonstrating that being a woman doesn’t exclude one from running a marathon, a court room, our government, or corporate board rooms.
The Journey was the action.
The Journey was the action of being able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.
The Journey was transforming the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
The Journey was working together, praying together, struggling together, going to jail together, standing up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day… together.
The Journey was movement.
But the Journey has not come to a stand-still.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
The Journey will continue if I stop.
But I can’t stop.
I can’t stop until every American’s check has been cashed.
When every American is truly guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
And I believe that day has yet to come.
So the Journey moves on.
The Journey moves on to open the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.
The Journey moves on to supply every citizen with the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
The Journey moves on to allow gays and lesbians to be treated as respected citizens.
The Journey moves on to fairly educate the lower class.
The Journey moves on to eradicate racism, bitterness, and hatred.
The Journey moves on until it hears Freedom Ring.
But Freedom won’t ring unless you journey,
And the journey won’t move unless you dream.
Everyday is a dream that only you can see,
Everyday is a journey to hear Freedom Ring.
Her emotions are tattooed all over my consciousness.
She’s become a recurring infomercial in my dreams and I don’t want to change the channel.
Her soul is simply irresistible and now I just can’t think straight.
I simply can’t stay focused because her love is so overwhelming that I have to constantly monitor my environment hoping to witness her spirit.
My attention span is bout as swift as the speed of light until she’s on my mind and then I can concentrate endlessly.
I get so encapsulated in her, and us, and our future that time completely loses its relevance
I impatiently press myself to produce immediate results.
I can’t generate the words to describe it, but I clearly see a tangible goal for our lives.
But I know I call her phone at moments when I know she can’t answer just so I can hear her voice over and over.
I appreciate all the advice and guidance from friends, family, and books.
But this here… is one of a kind,
And no amount of instruction or counsel could ever begin to translate the hieroglyphics manifested within her essence.
So… I got to go it alone.
Thoughts of the love that only she can give… regularly turn my steam kettle into a pressure cooker.
Just waiting to burst and run all over far beyond what the 23rd Psalms could ever imagine.
I love how she expects no more from me than she herself will give and yet she still realizes that even when I’m meeting those expectations… her love, faith, and conviction easily dwarfs what I’m capable of providing.
She provides me with the understanding of what Sojourner meant when she wrote, “Ain’t I A Woman.”
She blesses me with the fortitude of Harriet as she liberated soul after soul in that Underground Railroad.
She demonstrates all that Maya articulates when she says, “Still I Rise.”
No man could ever deny her Rosa-like strength as she sustains in the face of challenge.
And still she leads me on a journey as if the blood of Sacagawea runs through her soul.
And now that she’s given me all that she has, I’m ready to be a man.
Being that I’m largely responsible for much of her past pain and anguish.
I now internalize all the memoirs of my actions and I display an armor of protection of which not a soul can penetrate while I’m alive.
I understand the importance of communicating my pain, my fear, my love, and my commitment.
I’m willing to lower my voice, cry out loud, and pray as a unit.
Never again will she close her eyes at night wondering if I love her. Never again will she voyage through a day not feeling our passion in her every heartbeat. Never again will she depend on others to listen to her, to reassure her, to hug her, to be everything this man should be for her. Never again will she wonder if I’m good enough to take home. Never again will she wonder if she comes before my job, my momma, my kids, my friends, or the game.
Never again will she wonder if I mean what I say, because from now on… She will know me by my actions.
My flow is all-natural.
The listeners’ rhythms are provided by the monolithic, monotone reverberations that derive from within this soul.
And with each lyric, the onus lies on the audience to – listen.
Your focus or favor won’t be beseeched by the picking of strings, the beating of percussions, the blowing of horns, the snapping of fingertips, the clapping of palms, or the whistling of lips.
There won’t be no head-nodding tempos, foot-tapping bass, leg-slapping snares, or booty-shaking pace.
You can count on my lexis to pick your brain, bang on your conscience, blow your mind, snap you to attention, and make your spirit applaud.
With the ejaculation of each lyric, I give a miniscule but substantial portion of all of the people and experiences that have erected me to this day.
No artificial flavors, no artificial colors, no preservatives, no emulsifiers, no red #40, no yellow #5, and no blue #1. With the exception of my Kool-Aid addiction.
The product of Africans who survived the Atlantic-slave trade. The product of indigenous peoples who were Americans before there was an America. The product of Jim Crow, forced integration, single parent home, the racist-South, Bethel Bishop Apartments, Lila Garrett, Mary Priester, and C.A. Johnson High School.
Busting my natural, black ass to get better. Better than hitting Kayos, robbing Bi-Los, stealing wood from Lowe’s, convincing young sister’s their escape from the project is to act like someone’s ho.
Giving folk something quick to think about. Think about how we are quick to take in dogs and ignore the homeless. Think about how we are quick to ask young brothers about achievements sports and ignore their academic pursuits. Think about how we are quick to generate billions of dollars to repair one-day airplanes smashed into buildings and avoid reparations for decades of crashing people’s humanity and culture with slavery and oppression. Think about how we are quick to declare war on one country for what they might do and finance another country as they oppress and kill.
I provide spoken word. No rapping. No singing. No dancing. No harmonizing. No voice over beats. Just raw, honest statements.
No goals of comedy. No goals of laughter. No goals of happiness. No goals of entertainment.
I aim to have you think, then act. Now go make a difference.