Epic Sound's LTAB group piece

During months of practice for the annual Louder Than a Bomb youth poetry festival, Epic Sound, the slam team from Kenwood Academy, struggled to nail down their group piece. LTAB's required group piece is written collaboratively by an entire slam team and performed by four students. Epic Sound focused their group piece on the idea of abortion. The main character in the piece is a pregnant teen, and the group wanted to explore whether it is better not to be born than to be born into an unjust world.

Here is their piece:

Sons: When are we born?

Mothers: Is it when we embrace the world or defeat it?

Mother 1: I'm trembling,
barricading my fortress,
locking you inside my armor womb.
Our heartbeats in sync like a chorus,
but my life is amorphous.
My silhouette not proportionate.
I found a stranger in a self portrait.


Mothers: And all this darkness in my womb, I wonder will it be worth the blood on my hands.

Mother 2: These horizons close their eyes on me like everyone else. I guess that's just what people do.

Mother 1: But still the thought of my child being taken from me terrifies me.

Mother 2: My baby taken piece by piece,

Mother 1: Arm,

Mother 2: leg,

Mother 1: arm,

Mother 2: leg,

Mothers: head...
out of me.

Son 1: Mother, you're killing yourself trying to decide if I should live or die.

Sons: We both know that I'm going to do both.

Son 2: God gives life and can take it to,
and from what I see you ain't no holy figure.

Mother 2: Baby you don't hear what they say or see how they stare.
The sight and echo of them makes me want to pull out my hair.
They say things like,

Mothers: "Give it back to the stork, walk into Planned Parenthood and we'll grab the pitchforks."

Mother 2: "No child left behind honey,

Mother 1: but you're no longer sweet."


Son 1: You made a mistake.

Sons: Are you gonna crucify yourself for that?

Mothers: But baby you don't understand,

Mother 1: these people don't want you here.

Mother 2: Soon to become nothing more than the root of their fear.

Son 1: Mother you can't hate yourself for not saying no.

Mother 2: But I can still hear them say,

Mothers: "We live in Chicago everyday is a massacre

Mother 1: and that boy is better off not being born than living in this world."

Mothers: Baby, I love you

Mother 2: But not enough to raise you strong and tough,

Mother 1: Especially with the way this world is made up.

Mother 2: Even if I teach you to be the world's strongest man.

Mother 1: Even if you can lift a thousand weights and fly.

Mother 2: You'll be labeled

Mothers: the urban winged demon of the streets.

Son 1: I heard them say,

Son 2: "He might govern the nation,"

Son 1: but still be caged under it,
You're not pro life,

Son 2: You're pro executioner.

Sons: But it is you who must bear the burden of raising greatness

Mother 2: They told me,
"Any future you choose will be taxed dollars wasted.

Mother 1: Might as well rob me your son will next."

Son 2: I pity you,

Sons: and the grey sky above you.

Son 2: I am sorry that tears dulled your blue skies.

Son 1: But you owe me half a soul!
And since you put yourself in this situation,

Sons: I'm charging you double

Son 1: You can turn a necklace of pearls into a necklace of perils

Sons: and use that as a noose.

Son 1: But you shouldn't have to,
I don't care about the things you went through because I'm only as strong as you teach me to be.
I know you think you can't fight back but you have to, because when it comes down to it

Son 2: All I have is you.

Mother 2 and Son 2, speaking in the background as Mother 1 and Son 1 speak: I'm trembling,
barricading my fortress,
locking you inside my armor womb.
Our heartbeats in sync like a chorus
But my life is amorphous
My silhouette not proportionate
I found a stranger in a self portrait

Mother 1: I want to fight back but they've broken my hand.

Son 1: But you can still hit with a broken hand.

Mother 1: But how hard can a broken hand hit?
It's like choosing between a gun and a rose.
Either you take a life that you could have learned to love,

Son 1: Or you can love what can hurt you.

- Omari Ferrell, Sara Opsenica, Jada-Amina Harvey, Iain Irwin, Lyric Johnson, Ike Nwoye, Nanyamka Gallardo and Slayton Goodman.