KTF Press
Shake the Dust
Extra: Bodies

Extra: Bodies

Jonathan reads his poem that we just published. To read the ProPublica article that inspired the poem, click here.

Shake the Dust is a podcast of KTF Press. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Subscribe to get our newsletter and bonus episodes at KTFPress.com. Transcripts of every episode are available at KTFPress.com/s/transcripts.


Jonathan Walton – follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Our theme song is “Citizens” by Jon Guerra – listen to the whole song on Spotify.

Our podcast art is by Jacqueline Tam – follow her and see her other work on Instagram.

Production, editing, and transcript  by Sy Hoekstra.

Questions about anything you heard on the show? Write to shakethedust@ktfpress.com and we may answer your question on a future episode.


[A guitar softly plays six notes, the first three ascending and the last three descending — F#, B, F#, E, D#, B — with a keyboard pad playing the note B in the background. Both fade out as Jonathan Walton says “This is a KTF Press podcast.” There is a short pause, and then the intro piano music from “Citizens” by Jon Guerra plays briefly and then fades out]

Jonathan Walton: Welcome to this extra episode of Shake the Dust. I’m Jonathan Walton, here to read a poem of mine we just published at KTFPress.com called “Bodies.” This poem was originally commissioned by Poetic People Power. The links to the poem and the ProPublica article that inspired it are in the show notes. Alright, here we go.

“If the Negro is to be free, he must move down into the inner resources of his own soul and sign with a pen and ink of self-assertive manhood his own Emancipation Proclamation.”

— Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This poem is about bodies. Not bodies of water or bodies of work, but bodies covered by water, mud, brush, or dirt.

Not unearthed by chance like when me and my little brother found bones looking for minnows by the creek, but on purpose as white men search for new ways to make money. 

Black bodies under barriers, brown bodies under borders, or out in bushes, backwoods or boondocks.

Out of sight and out of mind until they interrupt or could be politicized or commodified. 

Like the bodies buried in Boydton, Virginia in Mecklenburg County. 

Black bodies found in what was the Moseley Family cemetery moved by Microsoft to make way for their new data center.

Big tech deleted them like an unwanted search history,

They emptied the caskets to make cash for caching our crap in the cloud. 

Thank you ProPublica and Seth Freed Wessler for seeing Mike and David Moseley, for remembering Stephen and his toddler son Fred, for exposing Alexis Jones and EnviroUtilities and Wayne Carter who found the remains of 37 Black people, packed their bones and belongings in plastic crates, and buried them in four graves where they wouldn’t bother Nadella and Gates—as they demonstrate what it looks like when Black lives don’t matter and you  illustrate through your time and attention what it means when they actually do.

This piece is called:

















All the beautiful and broken, messy and amazing of it – embodied

life all bound up 

in dark, beautiful, collective skin 

Beheld, hated, taken, chained, labeled

Renamed and shipped away 

Beautiful bodies in 1619 the Virginia company deemed 

Black bodies, commodities, and moved us for money 

Now another company in Virginia is moving us for money

They crushed us for cotton and now our bones are in the way

Highlight skulls and femurs and dirt,

Control X and paste them in another place

Black bodies at the bottom of the American way 

While everyone lives on top of us

We’re supposed to know our place, stay and be grateful

just forget from whom and where we came

You know… 

We went in the water Ashanti and Igbo and came up

Jonathan, Jennifer, and Toby

Black people 

With White names 

and gray thoughts

no bodies now 

Just Somebody’s now

Like Jim’s hog or Massa’s cow 

We have

Black habits

Things Black people like

Black dreams

Black aspirations

Black ambitions 

Black music

Black magic

Black songs

Black Lives

Black hopes

We are Black folks

And the stuff we touch, we taint

And change its nature to Black 

Fascinating a whole neighborhood leaves because of one Black home

Trying to live in a place where they once debated if we had souls

A land that determined by vote we were Three-fifths not one whole

Black Power bound up in brown skin

Hemmed in by a false fence called race 

Black bodies forever bound to colonization 

our false history said to begin with slavery

Black bodies on the bottom rung of white supremacy

So now we carry this trauma wherever we go –

In our bodies

Oh how will we change this? What will we do?

How will we cope? Will we make it through?

They’ve moved our bodies and built the buildings

We’ve seen and they’ve proven

They will do whatever they want to.

Ban our books, fire our teachers, burn our churches

Lynch, maim, kill, shoot, doesn’t matter if there’s camera footage.

Evidence be damned, it’s relocation without hesitation and with impunity

Pluck us up and move us out

Black bodies don’t belong in this community.

So where do we go?

Accept King’s invitation to go inside.

My body might be chained but my mind has amnesty

My spirit is immune and this Black soul is gonna dance in my community.

First me with God; then me, myself, and I; and then me and mine

Because this dark skin is filled with light

And I refuse to hide.

I bear witness to the one who made me, and the one who was sent.

I am made in the image of God no matter what your book says. 

I am not who you say I am unless you agree with him. 

The God who made me, you,

And everything,

That is

He is the one who holds it all together

White people are just pretending.

So say what you will, his voice is louder.

I may be silent amidst your nonsense

I am yielding to a different power

And if you dare take me like you did Martin, Emmett, and Ahmaud

Please know you can kill this body and move it wherever you like.

But one day I’m gonna get up and answer the call from my master, Jesus Christ.

I’m signing my own papers like MLK said I must

I withdraw my deposit in this society

Because whiteness is bankrupt

I’m leaving this burning house, and I’ll be okay

Just like Jesus we are only borrowing these graves.

KTF Press
Shake the Dust
Seeking Jesus, confronting injustice–Shake the Dust features candid interviews and informed discussions that guide us as we resist the idols of America.