Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Poems that Speak Out Against Violence and for Embrace - Ben Herron

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. 


Delinquent Roses
by Ben Herron

(For the children residing New Alternatives Group Homes and all children trying to survive.)

our children bring
woven into the fabric
of the sunset
against a made night
they wrestle for attention
one life time replaces another
for a moment I feel alive
for a moment i feel the
wind in my prayers
adjusting me to myself
giving the option to challenge
time in battle
we smuggle time across
borders that board us in
and reality brings us dreams
before sleep
our names start to define
the declarations of our
I build myself from oya skin
and jesus sweat and for once eyes
gates open eyes push in
delinquent roses grab my ankles
they all want answers
they walk in baby steps
unsure of there name and heart
back stroking
but it ain’t tight
we shake of haters giving
so much to the takers
fresh of the plantation with
plans for a nation
wearing bullets and Nkrumah
symbols shaped like skulls
those wretched want it all
but give nothing
those delinquent roses have
escaped the earths gravity
looking for an omen planet
a solstice in the middle of the
they want bloods to beat
bilafones that sound off
gangsta funk
they want urban terrorism
so they can find a reason
to love themselves
in images of dung we shape
full of our own image
we are at war with mere
whining newborns that only
want a chance for some of that
milky stuff
in omni pain they serve
themselves visions eyes hidden
and spirit hollowed
trapped inside religion
i run there myself sometimes
i pretend im praying when im
really crying
my heads down all the same
my eyes cross like intersections
my people are the definitive
example of living resurrection
the rhyming relentless
the blues-smith
we are pros of creation
but deaths amateurs
in this nigga creating
give Africa a gun in pain
and watch it cry bullets
but the healer blockers got
the bullets
ready to cock and squeeze
in a matrix made from
abbra ka klack klack dabbra
a new world with a ghetto for
a brain and slavery for it’s
it’s semen is synthetic it
only breeds lies
i saw them make a man out
of wire and nightmares
his teeth where shaped like
mau mau spears
they wanted his bite to be
black and amble
dropped and seldom
they wanted his bite flawless
yet full of every mistake we
have made
but the delinquent roses
still only want water
they don’t want a dried
out cotton mouth
that spits out little balls of
white foam with no age
they want rain from the chest up
they want fire by gun or god
either way they get fire
they rather burn things than
learn things
because what they take is
often more then what we give
when will we learn that you
can’t enslave life
you can’t expect rhythm to not
be rhythm
if it looks like a snake
than it’s probably not a snake
we have been conditioned to see
what we see for only what we see
and what they are is what we have
made them
the wretched want them in pain
better yet the wretched want them
our dependent on a system that
makes them put something in there
if you don’t want truths then stop
telling us lies
because we live in the natural
of the unnatural and a lie is like
a circle it will eventually come
around with a 2 ton hand the size
of America north and land on your
with fury and fear between its
fingers and you will never escape
its choke or punch
they had to create a red and blue
world because their rainbow
was not bright enough
this black and white world was
not bright enough
they needed arches and bangs
with memories over-looking
under-livings of a new and
revived middle passage

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