I posted this poem days ago. And then a few nights later I read it out loud to a group of fellow “creatives” (they did not have the written poem before them). Days later, they received a printed copy.
Their feedback was that the poem was “powerful”, but that hearing me read it touched them even deeper. I wanted to give everyone the opportunity to hear me. Below is an audio recording, with the poem re-printed below if you want to follow along.
Thank you to all those whose feedback encouraged (and encourages) me to continue to experiment with poetry. Memoir and essay are my “go to” formats, but sometimes what’s inside of me wants to be poetry. When my muse speaks, I obey.
What is this uproar Of "All Lives Matter"? As if all of them ever did? As if those first white-faced arrivals Cared about the natives Whose land they stole, Whose women they raped, Whose children they infected With lethal diseases - As if all lives mattered then. As if the African people - Ripped from their continent, Shipped like livestock, Sold like chattel, Enslaved to build up A Republic that failed To even recognize Five fifths of their personhood - As if all lives mattered then. As if the brown babies - Seized from their families, Housed in cages, Crying for their Mamis, Carried across the border To escape worse horrors, The designated "Dreamers" In the fantasy of America - As if all lives mattered then. Oddly, all lives matter When they're in the womb, Before race is revealed, Before mouths want food And souls make demands; 'Funny how All lives matter then! All lives don't matter Even when they are "Essential workers" When they drive the buses, Stock the shelves, Nurse the sick At their own peril Without essential gear - As if all lives matter. All lives don't matter When the plague strikes hard In nursing homes (the sick and dying), In private prisons (criminals), In meat processing plants (immigrants), In black and brown neighborhoods (no white people there!) - All lives don't matter! I dare you to tell me "All lives matter," When taxpayers' dollars Go to the richest 1% While the working men, Women and children, Move into their cars, Get in line for food. Do their lives matter? Don't get in my face With "All Lives Matter!" Don't question my rage Or B.L.M. placard, Don't act high and mighty And holier than thou As if my focus On these BLACK lives Makes ME a racist (Because what you think doesn't matter). Are you familiar With emergency triage? If it's losing blood Or CAN'T BREATHE You tend to it first; Unless of course, You're a white cop Taking a knee On a black man's neck. Do you feel me now? If ONLY all lives mattered! [Meanwhile, lest we forget...] Months ago, When the Amazon blazed The rainforest cried out, "I CAN'T BREATHE!" Alarms clamored: "The Amazon Matters!" (Not: "All Trees Matter!" Do you see the difference?) Focus attention Where the need is acute. Because it matters. And remember this: If the "lungs of the planet" Cease to work, None of this, Not one of us, Black, brown or white, Will matter. Copyright 2021 - Celenia Delsol