Our Hands Are Full Of Color


My uncle Billy is the leading Little Debbie’s snack cake salesman in all of North America

From Miami, Florida to Vancouver, British Colombia, nobody

sells more fudge rounds, Swiss rolls or nutty bars than him

My family is incredibly proud of this fact

We tell it to strangers;

to the respective husbands of our nieces;

to the clerk at the drugstore;

we whisper it in church,

‘Did you hear about Billy? Yeah, he’s the leading Little Debbie’s snack cake salesman in all of North America.’

And I will never write a poem that will ever come close to matching the grandeur of that

So you won the Nobel Prize, did ya? That’s nice. Did you hear Billy put six hundred cream pies on the rack of a shop’n’save in 3 days - that rack was freakin’ empty


is art the first class to be dropped by any public school?

Why are music rooms empty in junior highs from New York City to Nashville, Tennessee?


can you burn CD after CD after CD while filling your tank with an infinite amount of gas? And the war
is worth funding but music isn’t?

Our culture is a prison

and the only one with the key is little Emi Jones, covering every inch of her standardised test with

the best number 2 pencil version of a starry night anyone has ever seen and yes,

there is a humming bird in her chest;

its wings are beating 80 times a second

But the second you and I will see that Doctor King did not write a speech called I Have a Dream - he

wrote a poem called I Have a Dream

Y’all, I don’t know if God will have a purple heart, but I know we have a bow

we could pull above the strings of a combat boot and make it sing

like the eyes of a 7 year old boy

staring down the barrel of Apartheid’s loaded guns;

screaming for the right to write stories; to sing songs in his Mother’s tongue

Point me in the direction of glory

I will run towards a tiny hand in the most wounded corner of Palestine,

dipping a brush in to a can of yellow paint

to paint a feather on a wing on a wall that is so tall, only yellow birds can escape

And when they do, they carry the hearts of little girls on their backs

and when their wings flap, they make the sound of anthems being replaced with sky

And I swear, I could see their shadows pass across your glowing face

the night you said you have never given birth to a child

but you tear every single time you write a poem; we are growing our future

with every borrowed pen

I pray tonight we could write a rain that would fall like the tears at Folsom State Prison the day
Johnny Cash smashed his guitar over apathy’s head

The way Frida Kahlo - in the prison of her own body - had whole years where she could paint nothing but red

but she painted

to the bars in the locked cells of her pores

The same when saxophones in New Orleans played music underwater,

knowing some of those notes would rise up to the air carrying people and hope to shore

Y’all, I don’t believe in the godliness of steeples, but I believe in the stain glass

and every key on every organ that is desperate for light ‘cause we are desperate for life -

for the sight of a captivated audience refusing to be held captive in the thought that they can only
listen and watch

Picasso said he would paint with his own wet tongue on the dusty floor of a jail cell if he had to.

We have to create;

it is the only thing louder than destruction;

it is the only chance the bars are gonna break

Our hands full of color

reaching towards the sky - a brush stroke in the dark

It is not too late

That starry night - it is not yet dry.

- Andrea Gibson