New Poem: Because I Would


I have given up on calling these Poetry Month posts. I have obviously dropped the ball this year. Hopefully I will do better next year. Regardless I have to do better about just sitting down and writing, no matter how I feel. If I am feeling angry, I should just let the writing take care of it for me.
Speaking of feeling angry, I could spill syllable after syllable, paragraph after paragraph and incalculable bandwidth explaining why black men and women are killed by the rest of us. I could but I will boil it down to the simple psychological theory of transference. If you don’t already get what I mean, I will let the poem explain it for you.

Because I Would

I have to keep my eyes down
when I see you
avert my gaze and cross the street
pull my purse closer
tense my jaw
and be ready for the blow to come
I have to see you as a credible threat
for what else could you be

Because if I lost my heritage
my name
my language
my art
and my history
thrown in the waste bin
by your ancestors
the better to look at mine
as a commodity
an embryo would be planted
in the bitter uterus of my soul

And if I had to hear
my great grandmother
tell me of the scars
left on her grandfather’s back
for moving too slow
if I heard of his bent gate
if she told me
how he started at every movement
and noise
that embryo would grow
and twist inside me

And if my grandmother
told me of her uncle
swinging from a tree by his neck
because he smiled at your grandfather’s aunt
a little civility
in the face of unrelenting incivility
because your grandfather’s uncle
owned her in lieu of him
then my belly would swell with rage
doubling me over in pain

And if I grew up
in the nuclear winter
of the economic fallout
of your father abandoning our neighborhood
when my mother moved in
if I grew up in a prison for a school
next to the rat nest your father left behind
or with your guardians trained
to protect you from me
just for being
that rage would burst forth
in unending and impotent fury

So when I see you I have to know
that you want to hurt me
for your history
for your great grandmother
for your grandmother
and your mother
I have to protect myself
behind the badge of those that serve and protect
because I know you want to see me pay

Because I would


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