Death Is Nothing: The True Story Of Nat Turner - Poem by James Lewis
Lying in this shallow ditch I hear as they arrive, the miracle of God is all that's keeping me alive,
and it is that belief in God to which each day I strive, surprised at this much faith? Just simply gaze into my life.
Was born in 1800, month October 2nd day, and knee high to a hopper when my daddy ran away,
before you climb your soapbox and begin to think that way, remember these are times when all the black folk here are slaves.
Imagine being sold like stock, to work when cold or hot, the overseers beatin people if they're old or not,
do not defy the owner, best believe you will be sick, of getting 10 to 20 lashes from the master's whip.
My last name wasn't given at my birth and that's a fact, my given name's Nathaniel but they choose to call me Nat,
the surname of my owner Samuel is what I claim, you put it all together yes, Nat Turner is my name.
I think about Old Bridget, that's my grandmother you know, they snatched her out of Ghana, brought her here to freezing cold,
she ran the Coromantee who were known for slave revolts, she watched the seeds get planted in me grow and take a hold.
I thought myself the lucky one for I could read and write, it brought me to The Bible and I learned to read it right,
then spent my childhood years admidst the Spirit up above, it fit my needy soul just like a mitten or a glove.
I ran away at first when I was only 22, I should've stayed away because I really wanted to,
but 1 month later, picture this it's me a black man free, a vision told me that I should go back and that was key.
The visions I receive I know are messages from God, Old Bridget had religion shining deep within my heart,
I will inform the brethren and won't stop until they're saved, The Prophet is the name that I was called by fellow slaves.
As 6 years pass of this I know it never is too late, the hands of the Almighty have me primed for something great,
I carry heavy shoulders for a man of 28, but then I worked the master's field one sunny day in May.
I heard a loud noise in the heavens, God what can it be? The air around me shimmered then a Spirit came to me,
I couldn't move a muscle due to hard work in the heat, the Spirit then began to speak direct and indiscreet.
'Nathaniel listen closely for these words are very true, you're looking for a purpose? Well the Serpent's very loose,
you know that Jesus lay the yolk he bore for sins of men, you must engage the Serpent for the time's approaching when,
the 1st will be the last my son and last will come in 1st, the knowledge you've acquired will most surely quench your thirst,
this great work is your task from God oh ye of flesh and bone, so go and slay your enemies with weapons all their own.'
It took communication to devise those early plans, I had my 4 most trusted with me, Henry, Hark and Sam,
and Nelson too providing bits of info that I sought, these plans will take us weeks oh yes but forth they shall be brought.
I saw the sun eclipsing as a sign attack the land, it looks as though it's being covered by a black man's hand,
the bluish-green eclipse of August 1831, the final sign envisioning the slaughterfest to come.
We started going house to house and freeing all the slaves, then killing all the white folks left with hatchets, knives and chains,
we only used blunt objects to conceal our wave of smoke, I'll surely be the father to the mom of all revolts.
I speak of 'we' because by now we numbered 7-0, and had the whiteness falling to the ground like heaven's snow,
we went through 55 caucasians and their pretty wives, we also killed the kids but there were some who didn't die.
The poor white families were spared, we left them all intact, they didn't think no better of themselves than they did blacks,
the point of this to whites was our reality in chains, reality depicting the brutality of slaves.
We only got 2 days before revolting was suppressed, by white mobs and militias causing 56 black deaths,
along with others killed and beaten numbered many more, I think it was 200 but I really can't be sure.
I ran eluding capture for another couple months, the white folks swore that I would pay for all these sick'ning stunts,
until the day October twenty 1831, they found me in this ditch I'm hiding in, I guess I'm done.
They tried me and they found me guilty, sentenced me to death, this happened on November 5th, there wasn't much time left,
was hung on the 11th and for days that's how I stayed, until they cut my head off and my body chopped and flayed.
I look around at blacks folks in this modern day and age, and there may be some freedom but y'all still are truly slaves,
for me though death is nothing seeing those get killed for drugs, remember me Nat Turner for the man I really was.
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