Tag Archives: society

I Tried to Write About Racism

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I had a migraine the day after a woman

was killed while confronting Nazi

flags in Charlottesville. I anticipated this;

it happened after Dylan Roof too.

It seems, I try to tell my body

the news and it just can’t cope

with what humans do to humans

over and over

for meager prices.

 

That day, my niece’s voice over the phone

was overjoyed through the chaos–

she was going to have a daughter.

I smiled for her, but all I could think

about was how we were going

to explain the world,

how it works

to the future and their too wide eyes.

 

But I’ve worked in the children’s

department of libraries. Called

as a mother (firm, yet gentle)

behind a mixed group of children

playing hide and seek between

the juvenile shelves. Quickly, I remember

how two girls–

one black, one cornstarch blonde–

ran their fingers

in each other’s hair, fascinated

by the textures, silently finding

the differences very  funny,

but still, wonderful. When I think of how they

traded picture books and held hands until

reluctant to separate

and go home, I stopped wondering

whether reality will break my niece’s heart.

 

I apologized to the unborn, as I watched

it all gradually, then shut off the news

and myself for the weekend.

I read and cooked and even laughed,

but it was all puppet strings.

Everything was still exhausted

after watching

the who what when and where,

but the temples throbbed;

the body wasn’t ready to cross the line

where I could even ask the “why?”

(It asked at night, finally.

But I could only grasp at “I don’t know.

I wish I can explain some tempers,

but I grew up like the library children.”).

 

Later that night, I tried to write

about racism.

But all I could think about was how

my parents grew up watching

Martin Luther King have a dream

then die of it; Freedom Riders

beaten by the Klan before a bus

turned black and red; thousands

bruised the day before, but marching

again to brighten the landscape;

Emmitt Till’s open casket to scare the world

straight with mutilations–

and also, their disappointment, watching us

learn nothing, absolutely nothing.

 

Shooting pain again and it’s getting worse,

even with the strongest painkiller.

It still doesn’t get it either and my answers

can’t satisfy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Scapegoat

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Today, lethal injection.
Tomorrow, he’ll turn fourteen.
Neighbors, still throwing leftovers
from the verdict, will study the downcast
scowl and fleshy pout to deduce, “He’ll
be just like his thug father, just look
at him.” So in five years, at his
own trial,
they could nudge the other’s rib:
“See? Told you so”