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The Poetic City: Mwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa

Editor’s Note: NolaVie invites poets and poetry organizations to join us in celebrating the burgeoning and versatile New Orleans community of verse. In coordination with poet and organizer Sam Gordon, we will publish weekly poems, orally and written, by and about this city we love. Please contact Kelley Crawford ( with suggestions.

This week we have Mwende Kattwiwa. Mwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa is a Kenyan born, New Orleans based spoken word artist, organizer and youth worker. Known for her social justice work and poetry, FreeQuency has been described as ‘challenging’, ‘dynamic’, and it has been said on numerous occasions that “the room isn’t the same after hearing FreeQuency spit.” You can find her poetry on her website and you can also find her on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook.

On Lundi gras

Police murdered a Black man in New Orleans and the paraders did not stop marching


The sound of children screaming in joy drowned out the barrage of bullets that took the last whisper of breath from his body


Men on floats

hiding behind masks continued to throw them beads


While men who hide behind badges

threw another black life away


That night

Eric Harris was shot almost 20 times by cops

Who Heard he might have a gun

and decided he should not have his life


Who saw him crash his car into a pole and decided Their lives were in more danger than his

Who were Kept on street duty after his death because after all

they were just doing their jobs


And isn’t this a familiar story

A protagonist

Caped in blue sees himself savior

calls himself the holy trinity of





Appears from a cloud of gun smoke to kill the

same villain everytime

The same one

Who wears nothing but black skin and makes

the same mistake in every retelling


The mistake of thinking them self


Forgetting the Police

Are shepards tasked with keeping safe the flock

And have led many a black sheep to Slaughter


I wonder if he thought of Walter scott when he ran into them at the mall

How the police killed him in his own New Orleans home and figured the stores couldn’t be safer


if he made a split second decision to get in his car when he remembered how victor white died in new Iberia after being placed into the back of a sherries ride


I wonder if he sped away

Feeling like he couldn’t stop

Because he remembered how easily NOPD shot Armand Bennet when he stopped at a red light


I wonder if he drove like he knew

he was one gunshot away from becoming another

southern specter


A silent ghost disappearing into no ones distant memory but his family


His haunt


A footnote in the latest chapter of a people’s story

inked in blood and bound with whips

Told from tongues tied into nooses

Stories swaying in the pages of history


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