An Ode to De'Kayla

An “Ode to De’Kayla” inspired by Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” as rerecorded by jazz trumpeter Orbert Davis

By John W. Fountain
Tyesa, Rashonda, Diamond, Tionda.
Hadiya, Heaven, Frances, Kaylyn.
Jonylah, Tanaja, Tiara, De’Kayla.
…Daughters gone too soon. Somehow we failed you.
Ain’t no sunshine standing in the crosshairs. Baby girl brown eyes. Pearly whites in the sun’s glare. Braided jump rope slappin’ hard concrete. Double Dutch singin’ while Evil--thirsting blood--creeps.
Ice-cold demons ‘round here never ever seem to sleep. They got me screaming from the mountain peaks: Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone…
Clear blue skies quickly turn to cloudy-day cries. Steel-jacketed bullets rain. And our little brown girls die.
Now they lay their souls to sleep. I pray the Lord their souls to keep. But if we don’t rise before they wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. ‘Cause ain’t no sunshine.

         I know. I see. We bleed. We die. My soul can’t bear this load. Because they took my sunshine. Can’t you hear the mothers wailing? Too many young souls sailing. Hearts failing.
We die. My soul can’t bear this load. Can’t wait to get to heaven’s door. ‘Cause ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone…
Dear Chi-Town--Windy City of Screams--whatever happened to our beloved city of dreams? Why have you instead become a Dreams Deferred city of schemes? Where the sun don’t shine over here and these streets be so mean?
And the Death Angel in the hood works ‘round the clock. Stealing little black girls, even as they jump rope on the block. Ain’t no sunshine…
So if Heaven’s got a playground, then I pray it let’s them in. And I pray the Lord forgives us for this great sin. And I pray that this killing someday soon will all end. Even if it won’t bring our little girls back. Even if our hearts never mend.
From henceforth and forevermore, I’ll say it again and again: Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.
Children stand outside a memorial for
Tanaja Stokes, 9, fatally shot in 2010. 

So sick and tired of our children being murdered every day. Wondering why they can’t just go outside and play. Wondering--if we can stop ISIS and bring Bin Laden down--why can’t we stop this war in the hood where our children get shot down? Wondering why our “leaders” only show when the cameras shine…
Maybe because their love has waxed cold. And their hearts are so blind.
Ask not for whom the siren wails. It wails for thee. But if I live and die in the hood who’s gonna cry for me? And how many souls gotta fly before we make that change? How many days passed before you forget their names? And what you gonna do besides say, “It’s a doggone shame?”
Mourners await the funeral procession 
for Frances Colon, 18, an unintended 
victim fatally shot in 2013.
When you stand before your Maker one day, tell me how you gonna explain?
            A thousand years from now when this story is told. And the pages of our bloody history begin to unfold. How long will be the trail of tears? How much innocent blood crying from the grave fell on deaf ears?
And what greater violation of human rights, than the right to live and not die?
At the hands of each other, we fall prey to genocide. Teddy bears and balloons mark the spot where De’Kayla died. The church down the block is where she lay pretty in a white casket. Just 15 years is how long her life lasted.
Lip-gloss and sunshine is the way she’ll be remembered. And by the knife in the chest from the 13-year-old girl who killed her.
Black Lives Matter got their sight on white cops. Protesting on Main Street, instead of marching on the block. Pointing the finger rather than pointing the thumb. Bypassing the hood where our blood mostly runs.
And the Death Angel in the hood works ‘round the clock. Stealing little black girls, even as they jump rope on the block. Ain’t no sunshine.


Pall Bearers carry the casket of De'Kayla Dansberry, fatally stabbed in the chest allegedly by a 13-year-old girl.