Thursday, July 9, 2020

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Shooooz

We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond.  ― Gwendolyn Brooks  

Split This Rock Virtual Open Mic announcement includes a black background with red Split This Rock logo, text that reads "Virtual Open Mic," and an illustration of a hanging lamp sending out rays of light over a laptop.
As we journey through political, economic, and global health crises, we turn to poetry to share truths that unearth underlying causes, illuminate impacts, and insist on transformative change. For many of us, today’s challenges are not new. The struggle of isolation, economic insecurity, inadequate medical care, deadly institutionalized negligence, governmental decisions that put Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, disabled, sick, and other structurally precarious people at greater risk are not new. Today, many more people are experiencing the vulnerability of these unrelenting issues. We recognize this opportunity for a heightened awareness of how our very survival depends on one another.

Poetry can help keep the flame of resilience, solidarity, and resistance alive in us. It can help us process and move through grief, anger, loneliness. Poetry can be a comfort when the most necessary actions are to rest and recover. It can remind us of what’s at stake, that our lives and legacy are worth the fight. As cultural workers, we know that culture shapes our political and social imagination at a foundational level. As poets, we can use poetry to map what is, what has been, and possibly, the way forward, including the reasons not to return to what does not honor and protect our lives, our communities, and our planet.

We asked poets to give us the words they chant to get out of bed, to raise their fists, to encourage their kin, to remind us, as this crisis does, that “we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” To read all of these poems, visit Split This Rock’s website.


Oh, Angry America
By Shooooz

I took a walk round the block           today
feeling you

                                                    step for step
behind me –        it surprised me because
I was also seeing you
                                                       in parallel
behind my brother                a block away.

like Satan
you manage to be everywhere

when I quicken my pace I feel you match it
                                                               I imagine
it must be weird for you,                 who wants
so badly to pull ahead                             to find
yourself always a few steps behind
                                                          giving chase
                                                               by choice.

but like Satan
you manage to be everywhere

everywhere, except
                                                            in the lead
where you want to be
you paint maps in hot lead             charting a
path to your supremacy
an empty playing field is the only one     you
consider fair.

so like Satan
you manage to be everywhere

and when I beg you to lift those hands off of
me                                                 or my brother
you raise them
                                in a mockery of surrender
                                                               or terror
you beg me
                              with laughter in your voice
not to hurt you         as you curl three fingers
to make a gun of your fist
                      lead ready to scream from flesh
and when I                      look down the barrel
                                        of your pointed finger
and when I            gather my nerve to charge
at you                          you are no longer there
and when I               look up from the ground
I find your steel-eyed stare.

‘cause like Satan
you manage to be everywhere

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