Connect with me on Facebook Connect with me on Google+ Get my feed
$15,000 in debt
15,000 people
15,000 poems

race (to the “black poet who will not be silent while black people are being murdered”)

March 31st, 2016 § 0 comments

Poem #453 for Anonymous


Yesterday I went to a black poetry reading
I am white
I didn’t think anything of it
I have been wanting to protest since the
lack of indictments had come out but
every night I see the streets empty
and I guess it doesn’t hit home enough for me
to be the instigator

so when I heard about this protest at a protest site
exhibit be
graffiti beautifully placed across the facade of what used to be
“one hot joint, back in the day”
when I heard that protest and poetry and guerrilla art
and all people of all walks were all going to be assembled
across the river
I felt I needed to go.
at least it’s something.

I listened to angry and proud young voices
fighting so hard
the crowd, all angry and proud voices
trying so hard
and I stood there while poet after poet
sewed audible silk that snaked through us
stitching it all together;
the common knowledge that “the white man”
created this world, its rules and anyone else is to obey
or else

I tried to pull all the scarves of honesty from my mind listening to these young angry, proud voices
I wanted to be angry at their attacks of what I was born into
but my wisdom has taught me that
humility is to be found in listening to the truth

yesterday was truth

I knew they were right and I became angry and I shed my pride;
What have I said to offend?
How can I be better?
How do I avoid, or rise above, the facts I was born into
white, male, hetero
the top of the food chain

Do I engage? and ask these questions?
Do I support from the sidelines
allowing the people to have their own battles
as we all must?
But what battle do I ever have?
Do I stand ready to stand in between the abused and the abuser?

I listened to angry and proud young voices and I felt helpless
thirty six, white hetero male
minimal debt, wanderlust lifestyle,
I make good money when I want,
when I don’t wanna work, I don’t,
but I make it from the very same people who created the conditions
for all of our reason’s for being there yesterday.

I am the top of the food chain; I am the hypocrite

These are truths from which I benefit from,
these truths we hold to be self-evident

Every day I walk around the streets and wonder:
a year ago, me, driving near the border of
Virginia and North Carolina
rental car from yankee country with no registration
twenty-one over the speed limit
high, still, from the joint I smoked an hour before
caught with a grain of weed on my front seat
caught lying
caught with one twenty of weed
caught lying again
caught with another twenty of weed
caught lying again
and thirty minutes later driving away with a verbal warning;

I was surrounded by six hometown-boy white officers
and the first thing my mind thought about
rather than gratitude
was would I be driving right now if I weren’t
white, male, hetero?

I thought about the dozens of times my life could have changed, could have ended
if only I looked differently

I will not know how to be honest, how to think honestly
if I am not allowed to express honestly
the questions I have
because my honesty also realizes opposite truths

like, yes, I do flinch, yes, I do look around nervously, yes, I do wonder
when I see a hooded dark figure walking towards me on dark streets;
someone is robbed in this town every other night on them.
Every day I walk around the streets and wonder;
because fourteen years ago
I made a choice to not stereotype, to not discriminate;
the train pulled in and I was standing between two cars
to the right was one with people who looked like me
and to the left was one empty except for one man
I am street smart, but determined not to judge
and now when I notice figures like him walking in the distance
I remember sitting on the train thinking which part of my body would be least painful
thinking which way should I turn to him when he starts stabbing me..
I remember time going in slow motion, stuck between stations,
as he pulled his knife out and fit every stereotypical description of who he should be
I was scared, and I was sad, thinking forward fourteen years,
that this tall, dark, muscular man across from me was always going to make me flinch

I listened to these voices,
stuck between two experiences,
and I just did not know how to belong

Then spoke a joyful and soft old voice,
after meal after meal of vibrancy and fire
he takes the floor
with his big round glasses, salt and pepper beard,
a belly full of some good eatins’ over the years
and a quiet smile

I stood there wondering how many among us in that crowd really heard what he was saying

It’s easy to listen to a poet
and not hear their voice
and crazy or not, I have learned all of the elders deserve respect
when standing behind the poet’s mic
because there are a lot of years and a lot of living behind whatever word comes out


That is all I heard from him
look inside
be accountable to
do not blame anyone but
regardless of how stacked the deck is,
you can run and run but
when you run from the plantation
be sure to find and run with
make home within
so that you will never be tempted to turn around for any reason

and then he would start singing again
and a few among us would softly sing as well
and I felt a calm over everyone
because here was the mentor, here was the elder
preaching the love side of anger
the compassionate anger that eases off the compression so that it
may be set free;
loving, intense, motivating anger

I was thinking of what I consider to be suffering
was thinking about all of the people who have told me over the years that
the troubles we go through are all relative, so it is unfair to myself to minimize my problems
simple because someone else’s are worse.

I refuse to believe that.

I listened to this joyful and soft old voice
and in the silence of his hymn fading out
I understood from his words that all of our trials and tribulations
are not relative
that most others really do suffer more than us, more than me,
but that it is our responsibility to improve our own situation
and as a result, inadvertently without much effort at all,
we will project that out and hold each other to higher standards
we will live together

As I left, I kept hearing lines and rhythms piecing themselves together
interspersing themselves with the conversation, face to face
swirled inside a space nurturing the craft of magical larger-than-life art

the angry and proud youth
and the joyful and soft old man,
I felt a theme had settled in me that I did not expect
from the words I listened to:

“The best way to do is to do nothing”

do not help, do not hinder, do not try, do not look down upon, do not raise higher
acknowledge truth
simply do nothing and




(to the “black poet who will not be silent while black people are being murdered”)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: