Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Poems that Speak Against Violence and for Embrace - Megan Pankiewicz

If the back & arms you carry riddle with black
spots & marks made by birds who don’t want us here—
I will remind you: There are people who did this before us,
brown & black-spotted, yellow, with rattails,
born from what others did not want & loathed & aimed
to never let belong, & so, we are here today—
the field is wide. We make saliva from root & light.
Our spikelets grow, & do you feel the wind?
       - Joe Jiménez, Smutgrass

Orlando. Dhaka. Istanbul. Baghdad. Medina. Nice. The killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and the murder of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. This summer, terrible bigotry and violence have rent our global community. The killings must end, and we in the poetry community must contribute in any way we can. As we search for answers to these horrors and for ways to combat hatred and prejudice, we are reminded of poetry’s capacity to respond to violence, to help us regenerate, like spikelets sprouting in a contested field, claiming our public spaces for everyone.

In solidarity with all those targeted at home and abroad, from the LGBT community in the United States to devastated families of Baghdad, Split This Rock is offering its blog as a Virtual Open Mic. Over the next couple of weeks, from July 14 to 28, we are requesting poems in response to and against violence toward marginalized communities. After the Virtual Open Mic closes, we hope to print out and mail all of the poems to Congress and the National Rifle Association.

We are accepting poems through July 28; for more information, read the initial post here.


By The Dawn's Early Tail Light
by Megan Pankiewicz

The note is sharp:
the distinct sound of plastic splintering
as a dozen cracks radiate from the point of contact.
The bulb pops, goes dark.
Can't be fixed, not for days,
so it stays. Follows him
like a stain.
Lights flash: red, white, and blue,
like bombs bursting in air.
Wrong step, wrong breath,
and all the things are gone.
Cracks ring out, radiate
from Detroit down to Houston,
from New York to L.A.
They gladly stand up,
defend him still today.
Lights flash: red, white, and blue,
broad stripes and bright stars
on uniforms and cars.
Wrong place, wrong time,
and all the things are gone.
Cracks ring out, radiate.
"Oh, say, can you see?"
we are gallantly screaming,
at each other, deaf
from the pops and cracks and bombs
we rain down from ramparts.
Take heart, people.
Take hands, citizens.
Put down arms, and
take up glue, tape, thread
and mend these cracks.
We were ever a disparate nation
stitched together by common destiny.
We must give proof
that our flag is still there.

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