64 Parishes

A Request for Removal 

Poetry by Donney Rose, selected by John Warner Smith

Published: November 30, 2020
Last Updated: February 28, 2021

A Request for Removal 

Photo by Abdul Aziz 

The statue of Confederate general P. G. T. Beauregard undergoing removal on May 16, 2017. 

With poems that preach, pray, and teach, Donney Rose speaks to America in the moment and in the tradition of protest writers who understood the political power of art. Rose listens before he speaks, and he lives what he writes. His words matter, and they ring out loud long after we read them. 

—John Warner Smith 

America wants my tax dollars
to honor the iconography of men who 
siphoned sweat from my forefathers
and left nooses around
my family tree  

I cannot see buildings branded with 
murderous names 
or statues erected for race soldiers 
without thinking: blood money.  

I want to tell every defender of 
American nightmares 
my freedom dream is to 
mute the trumpeting of terrorists  

I do not care if they re-home
their symbolism at the bottom of the river 
or encase it in a museum 

I just want it out of
our line of sight 
I do not need eyesores 
emblematic of torture
to tell me what America is 
capable of 

The evening news will suffice. 

Donney Rose is a poet, teaching artist, essayist, and community activist from Baton Rouge. He is the creator of The American Audit, a multimedia spoken word project detailing 400 years of Black American life using the extended metaphor of America as a business being audited. Donney also contributed two scholarly articles to the St. James Encyclopedia of Hip Hop Culture and is chief content editor at The North Star, a liberation-oriented media outlet.