Read time: 2 mins

We Run Free (For Ahmaud) & Camera

by Tao Howard
11 July 2022

We run free (For Ahmaud)


We run free inside ourselves

Where the tread is sure and terrain is familiar

In the rarest air our hopes can manage

Vaulting dreams and thoughts of plans

That may never be, till we run free.


We run free in our minds’ eyes

Laced up kicks, barefoot, over glass or grass

We run to field from plantation

To shore, to railroad, from tee shirt to tie

We never arrive uncompromised.


We run free like dark water

Over the edge of determined existence

Muddied, troubled, where wade our children

Bloodied, doubled over with exhaustion

But at least not folded face to dust.


We run free like night catch day

Sun setting on our heels, stars filling our eyes

Till every last drop of energy is spent

And never stop running lest we lose sight

We our own finish line, we a moving target.




‘Ta-mer-a! Get it…?’

She points to one shadowy corner

Of the pockmarked ceiling.

‘Like “camera”—with a “T”.’


For the first time I notice it

Perched there, all-seeing eye

Staring boldly black at us,

Curved chin cocked,

Sizing up the weight of our ways

And measure of our motives,

Looking out for any sudden moves

Beyond the borders of intolerance.


We are the aliens, they say,

But this feels like an invasion—

Privacy more dear

When converted to US prices—

Hovering domes, like spaceships

In a galaxy of stripes and stars,

Fit into the realm of ‘This many!’

On my grubby fingers.


Counting cameras takes much less time

Than waiting on due process.

I keep close to secure her

In this unfamiliar territory,

The din of their exchange

Undulating like boats adrift,

Washed up upon the rustle of

Bright white paper and stiff red tape.


For the record (and the recording),

He’s still using the wrong pronunciation.

Mama, who’s given up everything

Holds on to one last shred of dignity.

Eyeball to glass, top lip curved

Like a flag of defiance waving,

She points one finger upward.

‘I said, it’s pronounced “Tamera”!’

About the Author

Tao Howard

Tao Howard’s passion for words has been her companion since childhood. She developed her writing practice as a student of art, languages and literature. Three poems received NIFCA literary awards and were published in the Winning Words Anthology. In 2021, she self-published a 24-Day Advent Devotional, A Holy Invitation: Reflections on Home, Hope & Hospitality. […]