Sunday, 14 June 2020

Apologies for My Lack of Response to Current Events

When I decided to go quiet,
was the time I should have been speaking out.
When the screens started going dark,
black voices said to offer lifelines.
When I wanted to write,
I knew my voice wasn't one that needed to be heard.
I couldn't watch the violence any more,
but can't turn away any longer.
Frozen with indecision,
I've crawled back into my corner,
no safer, no more sheltered than anywhere else
for people of colour, for immigrants
to listen to what is needed of me. 

I had a chance to hear this poem read last night by the author Catrice Greer at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival's online Only Connect with Ankh Spice and it was so hard hitting and beautiful that I'm so happy that it's available online to share. It says more than I ever can.

The Heights

By Catrice Greer

It's been years
I think of you often 
And I remember 
You sitting on the stoop

With your boys,
your cousins
Doing what you knew
But wanting more

One day
After arrests, adventures, girlfriends
Missteps and babies
You turned 21

The sun was shining
It was your summer
And your joy drove in circles
around Wilton heights in your car
your favourtie music blasting
lyrics reverberating
from every corner, fence post, doorknob,
and amplified in the hollow
of the only quiet nook in the horseshoe turn

Your girlfriend and babies
Just dropped off at your mom's
Everyone waiting for you
To come inside
To celebrate you

A flurry of rattled off shots
From a fast swerving car
Spilling the life out of your sunshine
Cutting-off your sunbeams
slumped over a car steering wheel
All the hope seeping in puddles

I think of you often
choking back tears, holding my breath
So I don't scream out - why????
I miss
Your smile, young bravado, intelligence, questions

What ifs, and how comes?
Your joy
Wanting more out of your life
Making plans to be your best
And we'd talk

Second chances, new plans
Brother to sister, friends
You'd ask me how come I am so different

And I couldn't understand how come you couldn't see
We were the same
Just people living

I saw your heart
Beautiful gem
Miles away from weathered boards on windows

Misperceptions, Spaulding, Palmer, Blevedere and 
Street wars just to stay alive and feel alive in a world that didn't
Understand your value
Stunted short
By gunshots, rivalry, and misdirected youth
3 strike rules, missed opportunities, and poverty that
Brutally entraps, forced by pressures unseen but well known,

Making decisions that bright little brown boys rarely grow up with dreams of making
their lives less than the greatness they deserve

Wishing you a happy birthday,
Seems like
I had just seen you yesterday, Gone, gone
And we miss you
Every minute of every hour of every day
It's been years

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