Everest by Jamila Gore

Jamila Gore is a spoken word artist, performer, poet and writer living in Northampton, Massachusetts. She has facilitated and hosted Poetry Slams and performed poetry throughout the pioneer valley since 2008. She won the Organizer Prize for the Movement Voter Project’s 2018 poetry contest and was the interlude act at TedX Women Easthampton.


We just like the tiger king y’all we’ve been set up

conned, bamboozled, double-crossed

whatever synonym you can think of for duped

how do you get over 300 million people to believe in a system that was built for a few, built to fail?

we could start from the beginning, study history, lay bare that document of laws and so- called inalienable rights that get pushed aside for profit

or we could just look at the present moment and see how that history keeps repeating itself over and over again

each generation gets their special name and vows to do better

exclaims that the generation before them didn’t get it right

or the generation after them didn’t have it as hard

what’s the use of naming everything, everyone?

tongue and pen are always more impulsive than soundness of mind

labels and words can collect like venom in someone’s flesh until they forget that they’re human

and take on a reptilian likeness

Name it all, label it

brand it, own it

how do you label terror?

how do you label the fear of drowning on dry land because you can’t find your breath?

can you imagine?

I wish we could all try to be more imaginative so we can create a world based on innovation and creativity, humanity

Maybe all we need to do is look up at the sky

India’s three-decade long game of peekaboo with Himalayan peaks ended when stay-at- home orders began

a lifetime of smog parted to give way to clear blue skies

a world of going outside to play under blue skies in New Delhi

an actual present moment thing

A lot of us can’t see it because we can’t see our next paycheck or our next meal

we can’t see outside our jail cells, we can’t see how to get away from our abusers

how can we all see those mountains?

make that blue sky more than just a dream

The air up there is so thin climbing to the peak of Everest gasping and grasping

my momma used to always wonder why people would ever want to climb like that

why they would want to put themselves through that challenge when life was already challenging enough

especially for people like us

but you know what?

we all have our Everest

maybe during this Great Pause we can figure out how to get more people from the bottom up to the top

many will perish, some will go back down, some will lack the proper equipment, but if we work together some of us will reach the summit for the first time and look around with awe and wonder at our new perspective

Hopefully, when we get there, the skies will still be blue