Last Saturday I attended the local #WearOrange rally in Evanston, Illinois. It was in support of victims, friends, and relatives who have lost lives through gun violence and in support of curbing gun violence and helping to prevent it.
There were speakers, performers, and tables with materials helping you find ways to get involved. It was an invigorating and community building rally to attend!
My concrete poem is in response to the rally:
A performance and more photos from the rally ……
SAY IT WITH YOUR WHOLE BLACK MOUTH
By Danez Smith
say it with your whole black mouth: i am innocent
& if you are not innocent, say this: i am worthy of forgiveness,
of breath after breath
I tell you this: i let blue eyes dress me in guilt
walked around stores convinced the very skin of my palm was stolen
& what good has that brought me? days filled flinching
thinking the sirens were reaching for me
& when the sirens were for me
did i not make peace with god?
so many white people are alive because
we know how to control ourselves.
how many times have we died on a whim
wielded like gallows in their sun-shy hands?
here standing in my own body, i say: the next time
they murder us for the crime of their imaginations
i don’t know what I’ll do.
i did not come to preach of peace
for that is not the hunted’s duty.
i came here to say what i can’t say
without my name being added to a list
Read the rest of the poem at poets.org
Kiesha is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday Roundup on her blog, Whispers from the Ridge Kiesha Shepard, thanks Kiesha! She’s wrapping summer around her and has shared a summer poem, Summer’s Song. Drop by her blog for a taste of summer and more poems.
Lovely Michelle, create community, create change!
Wow. “I tell you this: i let blue eyes dress me in guilt
walked around stores convinced the very skin of my palm was stolen” Thanks for sharing your experience through your poems and pictures. Powerful.
Hi Molly, thanks–these are powerfully important messages to keep spreading!
I was at a #WearOrange march in Brunswick, Maine. We have to join our voices together. You have with your poem. It shouts as loud as a poster. And the poem by Smith has so many phrases that sting. ” i let blue eyes dress me in guilt.” “how many times have we died on a whim
wielded like gallows in their sun-shy hands?” Thanks for sharing with us.
Hi Joyce, glad you were marching too, thanks! It’s gorgeous in your area, I was in Acadia and a bit north of it a long time ago and fell in love with the area. Hope this wave of voices continues to grow from way up north where you are down into the midwest, in Chicago, where I am and all the way through to the west coast!
Joyce–Small world! I live next door to Brunswick (more or less)! Is there a group that organizes these events? Where’s the best place to get information?
I have only an inkling of what “i let blue eyes dress me in guilt” because when I traveled with my middle school students, we had to warn them to be very careful because we allowed them to go alone in small groups sometimes, and they were sometimes asked to leave a store. People did not trust those young kids. Your poem is powerful, Michelle, and thanks for the list of groups!
It’s a sad world we live in, which is an understatement. But I so often think about the day to day danger people of color have and are experiencing–because of their color. I look to all forms of art to help bridge so many of these rough edges.
This quote “& if you are not innocent, say this: i am worthy of forgiveness” would be good for the IMPERFECT blog. There’s an orange shirt I’ve been wanting to get: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B079XY5WN8 It expresses my sentiments so precisely!
What a powerful poem. “So many white people are alive because we know how to control ourselves.” I just wish there was more empathy and awareness instead of stubborn closed mindedness. Thanks for sharing about the rally; building community and bridges of understanding has never been more important.
Your response poem is brave and powerful. It cries out for the change needed to put an end to this violent epidemic sweeping through our nation. Thank you for sharing your experience and the poem it inspired.
My God, my heart breaks. I just can’t comprehend this world, where powerful people value weapons of death over the lives of beautiful, innocent young people. What a nightmare. Thank you for helping to spread this message and helping build community and hope.
Your poem, the dance, the music they dance to, “SAY IT WITH YOUR WHOLE BLACK MOUTH”…all of this proves the importance of combining the arts with our passions!
Michelle, what a power packed and heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing your experience and leading the way toward a better world. “Your thoughts, joined with another’s , your thoughts will bring change.” The power of concrete poetry!
This is such a powerful post, Michelle! I love the message of your poem: by joining together, we will “bring change.” Thank you for sharing the video of that moving dance, too.
I’ve marched in several gun violence marches this spring. Your lines, “Create Community, Create Change” definitely captured the feeling of those days. I am the mom of two African American men, and the second poem breaks my heart. I am afraid every time my boys leave the house.
Thanks for being at this event, Michelle–I really enjoyed the dance piece, the rhythm of your poem, and that searing Danez Smith poem.
A poem for action. Communities must not become complacent or hopeless. Keep writing!
I really enjoyed your concrete poem. Thank you for adding your voice to such a worthy movement. It is time something is done.
I want to believe in the power of your words: “Your actions joined with another’s actions will bring change.” Thanks for sharing the video and the other poem too. Your list of organizations is a call to action for all of us.