December 2020: Ivy Hall Review Features Debbie Joe Johnson

Debbie Joe Johnson hails from Queens, New York and now resides in Atlanta, Georgia whilst obtaining her BFA in writing. Reading and writing are some of her earliest memories as a child. She views her art as both a savior and a reason to breathe. The one thing that keeps her grounded in this ever evolving world.


Have you ever wished to be somewhere
Though you don’t know where to be
A place in which to exist on your own
Understanding the world
The many raindrops of past grief

Grief that you may have brought on yourself
You, a flower that bloomed in the dark
The dark, a place where not many wish to be

Have you ever wished to exist
Exist in a skin outside of your own
Floating above the harsh realities
Realities of a world too greatly known

Wishing oh-so-dearly to escape to alternate places
Places that your heart begs to call home
Home, a space in which you thought you knew yourself
You, a fiery ball of juxtaposition and contradictions

A hilly land of what-ifs and soon-to-be regrets
Regret for something you will never do
Because regret means you will never bloom
Bloom comes from the seed planted by your own deeds
Deeds one should always learn from
Learning, a key element of failing and trying again
Again and again, again

Yes, you have repeated the same sin
A sin which lingers in this vicious circle
A circle from which you wish to break
Break and elevate
Elevate to a place that’s different from where you’ve been and
From where you are going
Go, go
Go and fly
Fly and find the true treasures that others left behind

Have you ever wished to exist
In a place that is incommensurable to your own
Own, yes, own your life
A life which is musical and meaningful
Full of priceless gold
Gold which may not glitter
Because everything that glitters can’t possibly be gold

But you are gold, filled to the brim
Overfilling with knowledge and whim
So stand and be boisterous, proud of your skin
Skin can only last for this lifetime
And not so surely in the next
So, I ask:
Have you ever wished to be somewhere
Somewhere where the grass isn’t necessarily greener but

Planted Seeds

Black lives matter, black lives matter
Are we saying this in vain?
You’re out looting, they still shooting
Our brothers and sisters
Lay cold in the streets

I can’t breathe
And Fruitvale station still fruitless
But we continue to fight
Fight, for what’s right
Yes, quite the endeavor

Ayo! Hoodies up!
Up, down, down, up

Picketing with the wood
The wood of their white picket fences
Standing up
Showing out
With no defenses

This is America
Where dreams are sold and stolen
Where justice reigns true
We can run up in your house
Kill ya Momma, Breonna,
Oh, Sandra Bland too!

Black lives matter
Black lives matter
My people, we aren’t black
The lack, of all color
We’re an army of hues
Various shades of mocha and brown
We are a proud people
Tired of being pushed down
Drowned, suffocated
In the wave on wave of Emmett Till cases
And we will speak
Speak for Eric Gardner
For Micheal Brown
For Tamir Rice
For Samuel DuBose
For Ahmaud Arbery
For Jordan Edwards
For Walter Scott
All these men
Oh, so many men
So many, many brown-skinned men
Lifeless at the hands of Willie Lynch’s sin

Now more than us took to the street
To defeat, the system
Who believe us to be,
Dispensable, expendable
Preying on our children
For generations upon generations

Beating em
Stealing em
Locking them up
And killing em

They’ve tried to bury us
Take our culture
Define it as their own
Walk a mile in
Our shoes
Our fashion
Claim title to this throne

When this nation’s foundation was built
On the bleeding backs of our very own
We’ve ushered fertility into this here barren soil
The fibers of our DNA
Rooted into the bedding of this once beautiful
Now stolen land

What was reaped
Will be sowed
Little did they know
A seed was planted
And it will grow

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