Thursday, August 4, 2016

Poems that Speak Out Against Violence and for Embrace - Malcolm Towler

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. 


Letter to a drunk welterweight
by Malcolm Towler

Cracked lips remind me of mirrors shattered with fists. Waiting for the Chapstick to heal
them which proves someone loves them little tubes of moisturizing renewable love 1.79
at a time her lips are addicted to feeling cared for. And her eyes are used to cold peas that
never see the soup they were bought for. She just wants to be fought for. Lost a lot for.
Not on the floor. Seeing how old the wood in the floor is up close while my spirit drains
into it. This porous oak didn't sprout to get cut down much less make an unintentional
mop for her bodily fluids because she isn't who you want her to be. Not the models
whose flawless pictures and videos gave you erections harder than being consistent, no.
She is average with a heart of gold that's found a section for your existence that
rationalizes your persistence in beating her. Loving your cracked mirror soul trying to put
adhesive in the wounds and trying to ignore the cuts she suffers at her own hands.
Because she beats herself inside while you batter her outside trying to understand trying
to comprehend why she isn't good enough and that maybe she deserves this hand. She's
been dealt. But the only face cards she sees are the times she looks at the floor she cleans
with imprints of her cheek when your BAC outweighs your upbringing somehow erasing
all the evidence of why she should leave and repainting you as wonderful on the canvas
of comfortable with a setting of how misunderstood you are when there's a Hole in her
soul so big the hospital and church gotta work together. But you're a drunk welterweight
champion who has never lost a bout. Even though you've lost about everything there is to
see with a woman that devout. And to make it right you will prolly tell her you love her
and can't wait to see her in that wedding dress so you ease up on her. Not because it's
right, but because you know others care for her, like you say you do. And all that shit is
vapor once you get drunk again and don't realize that wedding dress is made of divorce
papers and the only ring you'll have is the one around another woman's eye, or in state
funded restaurants where tossed salad is on the house. But you a champ.
But you never wear your belt, she does. And every time you yell I imagine she shrinks
back because she hears an imaginary bell and knows that you've come to defend a title
she has never wanted you to have and her pain you've never felt. But until you get your
ass whooped or she decides to leave, you'll be a drunk welterweight with titles, and she's
wearing belts around her eyes and welts around her wrists wondering why she couldn't
have been a ring card girl

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