It’s not as easy as one may think to write a poem for a cause.
On April 8, 2016, I connected with the lovely Deanna Joseph. Her son Andrew, 14, was removed from the Florida State Fair along with 98 other children. Unlike the other 98 children, Andrew never came home. He was dropped off two miles from the fairgrounds and told not to return. Being in an unfamiliar area and in the dark, he attempted to cross I-4 to get back to where his ride was to meet him. He was hit and killed by a 17-year-old driver on February 7, 2014, just a month and a half shy of his 15th birthday.
There are many underlying facts involved with this case that you can read about here: http://www.andrewjosephfoundation.org/
I interviewed Deanna for almost two hours during our first phone conversation. She told me the story from beginning to end and when our call was over, I was devastated. I can’t even imagine surviving the death of my child in that manner. This young man who was ripped away from his family in a senseless manner, based on racial injustice, will never reach his full life potential and milestones like, graduation, marriage, fatherhood, etc.
I knew a memorial weekend would take place in the week of the three year anniversary of his death, so I volunteered to perform a poem along with several other local poets I greatly admire. I had not yet written the poem I had promised to Deanna, a memoriam for her son, Andrew. It was difficult to find the direction I wanted to go in as I had to filter through my own feelings of sadness, confusion, and rage about he circumstances. I wanted to humanize Andrew, make his life and death mean more than a headline revolving around an every growing problem in America.
I finally sat down, read through my notes taken during my phone conversation with Deanna and began to pen the words. They flowed with ease. I knew what my heart wanted to say.
The poem I wrote for Andrew and his family is but the beginning of a bigger project I am working on and I am honored to have been chosen to commemorate this young man’s life. He is not alone in the story of such a tragedy. There are so many others. So many lost souls. So many devastated families.
I hope to honor them with my words, my poems, and my compassion.