Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Poems that Speak Against Violence and for Embrace - Diana Terrill Clark

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.


Black and Blue
by Diana Terrill Clark
I see blood in videos shot by weeping witnesses.
I see righteous (and unrighteous) rage.
I see the way some seek an excuse, any excuse.
I see them spin it to match their agendas.
I see words of love and loss and crushing contempt.
What’s worse, I see studied indifference and rampant narcissism.
I see people choosing sides with hashtags.
I see so many wounded families left grieving.
I see chaos in a way that should be over and done by now.
I see patterns of history repeating itself again and again.
I would choose peace for the world, but I see the world reject it.
I see we’re all on the same side; all on the same damn side.
I see disbelieving people embrace hate, and don’t they know
hate breeds hate breeds hate breeds hate breeds hate?
And every despicable act crushes the good and their hopeful intentions.
I see my grieving heart bruised black and blue.

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