Omari Ferrell, Kenwood Academy
Omari Ferrell, a student at Kenwood Academy, was a finalist in this year’s Louder Than a Bomb competition. [Photo by Sara Faraj]

By Omari Ferrell, Kenwood Academy

Bag of Frooties for a dollar!
Pack of socks for five!
Headphones for seven!
But I’ll give you $10 for a conversation.
A soldier died in my arms once, and the only person I had to talk to was the officer when they took away his dead body.
I watched my mother overdose in front of me and not once did I say anything.
I remained silent while the tortuous kids of my 7th-grade class labeled me the offspring of a dope fiend.
“Dope fiends don’t have money…” they said. “Dope fiends only eat dog food.”
So since 7th grade, I’ve been Dogfood.
My name ain’t Dogfood.

Dogfood ain’t get hugs from his foster parents like they gave their kids.
Dogfood’s nights were always cold.
Dogfood had a house, but he never had a home.

My name ain’t Dogfood!
It was so easy for them to talk about me or around me, but never did they consider talking to me.
I’m OK, their words don’t hurt, and if I lie long enough, maybe I’ll start to believe it.
I’m an adult now, and I’ve heard words dirtier than I am.
Words that say you can be anything you wanna be if you believe.
Singin’ songs like “anything is possible no matter how impossible it seems.”
I wanted to play catch with a dad that wasn’t there.
I wanted to stop my mother from shooting up when my brother was shot down.
I wanted to stop my baby brother from getting shot down!
And I wanna make a sour life sweet…
I want my words to pierce through your mental handicap making you choose to be blind!
Making you choose to make me out to be criminal!
DAMMIT!!! I was born to be a criminal. I was always told that I would be a Beast, or a monster, or a nigga, or dogfood!
My name ain’t Dogfood!
I need a conversation so I can tell you that the soldier that died in my arms was my baby brother, and he, like me, has never left this nation… soldiers like us never do.
I need a conversation…
So I’m selling Frooties for a dollar! So something in your life will be sweet.
Pack of socks for five! So you will be comfortable in your shoes as you run away from my truths.
Headphones for seven! So you don’t have to listen to my truths, and remain ignorant to the realities I’ve become entirely too used to.
Or you can take my $10 donation for a conversation. I won’t tell you these things, I will simply let you know that my name is not Dogfood, don’t ever believe this…
My name is Lewis.