Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Poem of the Week: Chris August


America, don’t we love like oil?

Don’t our slippery arms

Pave the pores of those who need us?

Don’t we suffocate with our embrace?

Hasn’t our sheen of pink slips

And half-hearted hand outs

Sucked the air from blue collared lungs?

Aren’t cardboard boxes as porous

As dollar bills?

Don’t we infiltrate?

Isn’t our heart amorphous?

Aren’t we a slow build

And a tight grip?

Don’t countless dumb animals

Struggle their way from our grip?

Doesn’t Europe’s fur still glisten

From the crude of our aid?

Doesn’t the Middle East smell like us?

Aren’t we just like oil?

Is it any surprise when it leaks from our bowels

Into once pristine oceans

Don’t we muddy the waters?

Don’t we smear our babies’ asses

With petroleum jelly,

Don’t we air commercials for coal


Isn’t oil us?

Isn’t it slippery

But insistently vital,

Isn’t it the only black thing

We’re not afraid of?

Isn’t it us?

Isn’t it symbolic how it slips out,

How it once was life,

How we need it,

How it kills us?

Don’t we love symbolism?

A great white nation

With no control of dark things,

Dirty things, moving things

Isn’t it what we know?

Isn’t it what believe in?

Two press conferences too late,

A wellspring of good intentions

Strangling the seascape,

Isn’t it angry,

Isn’t it unstoppable,

Isn’t it us?

- Chris August

Used by permission.

Chris August is a writer and special educator from Baltimore, Maryland. He has been a part of the national poetry slam community since 2002. In that time, he has been ranked among the top ten performance poets in the world and has performed and competed across the country. He is the author of several self published collections of poetry.

August was a featured opening performer at ‘Howl’ in the City, a performance of Allen Ginsberg’s seminal poem “Howl” by Anne Waldman on July 23rd and 24th, 2010. Cosponsored by Split This Rock and Busboys and Poets.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem-of-the-Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

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