Thursday, August 4, 2016

Poems that Speak Out Against Violence and for Embrace - R. Copans

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. 


How Do You Protect the Person You Love
by R. Copans

I didn't think much of the drunk man
on the corner of North Station
He moves his hand toward his chest
while he speaks
It seems to just be a drunk move
But to my girlfriend holding my hand
he seems like his hand could be up to more

Nothing scares me more than straight, cis, white man
Nothing scares me until 50 queers
are killed
Nothing seems like second thought

That night a man with a crooked tie
and eyes we could analyze
had the girl who tells me I make her feel so safe
letting go of my hand
And all I want to do is protect the person I love
But how do you protect someone when 
your physical oriented instinct of protection
post the risk?
How do you protect the person you love
from a world that
wants to hurt you because of that?

How do you protect the person you love?
How do you protect the person you love?

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