#Verselove Helps Me Confront Myself

So many slices of my life lately are reading and writing poems.

Who knew?

My first time ever writing a poem each day in April happened because of quarantining in this Covid-19 chapter of life. Having just had a successful 31 days of writing blog posts for Slice of Life, I decided I might give poetry a try in April thanks to this inspiring post by Glenda Funk.

And I succeeded. It was a rewarding experience and has been helping me process life events and news. Now, this week poetry is helping me confront my own complicity in white supremacy.

Say His Name–Ahmaud Arbery

“Come, son, grab your gun
There’s a black burglar
Bounding ’round the block”

In this land
Two armed white men insist on their
right to defend themselves
While one unarmed black man
is not allowed to exercise the same right
Or to exercise

State laws made to justify
Two people
Confronting, and
a person
they’ve never met.
Usurping duties of
police, court, jury,
and executioner.

As long as the two
are on the safe side
of the racial contract in ‘Merica
they will be exonerated.
Assumptions of white innocence
Assumptions of black guilt

Americans implicitly know
Who are bound by the rules
And who are exempt
Would your son be allowed to jog
in a new neighborhood?
I know
You know

All men are created equal
(If they are white and own property)
Crooked creed

All men are created equal
(But some are only 3/5ths equal)
Crippling creed

Codicil in invisible ink
Yet penned visibly in red blood
On black bodies

Murder is illegal
But fine for white people to
Chase down and kill black people
If they have decided
that those black people scare them
Cowardly creed

These injustices
Push the racial contract into the open
Then it’s up to us to choose
Do we embrace its existence?
Do we contest its existence?
Do we deny its existence?

Hang on, white men.
Hang on, power-hungry,
To your fading entrenchment of
White political power to
“make America great again”

Father and son
Chased a “burglar” jogger
Shot him dead.
Acting in self-defense?

Arrested and charged with murder
Because of national outrage
(But absent the video, then what?)

Centuries overdue,
But now is the time
for more
national outrage,
It’s time for a
Courageous creed

Many words and phrases in this poem were found in the first half of this article in The Atlantic: “The Coronavirus was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying”

#Verselove is continuing during the year for five-day challenges each month. I am so excited that the May #verselove 5-Day Monthly Open Write starts on Saturday this week. Kim Johnson will give us some delightful and challenging prompts. Everyone who wants to will write a poem in response to the prompt, however they interpret it or want to stray from it. Then the community of poet-teachers reads and comments on the others’ poems.

You are all invited! Join us starting this Saturday through Wednesday. It is a healing and empowering activity for this stressful time. (Click for the sign-up form.)

I made this comment on a #Verselove evaluation last month.

6 thoughts on “#Verselove Helps Me Confront Myself

  1. Poetry has come in and out of my life quite a few times. I’ve been on a writing hiatus, but I think I’ll take up your invitation to join the 5-day poetry writing challenge just to see what happens. I’ve been enjoying getting up late, reading the NY Times as much as I want, plowing through books I’ve wanted to read for ages, staying in contact with friends. But I’m not sure if I’ve been doing much playing. Let the fun begin!

    1. That will be great to see you there, Barbara. Here in this post there are four of us right now–Glenda, Maureen and I too. The restful time with the paper sounds great.

  2. Denise, I’m thrilled you joined the #verselove community and are finding writing poetry both cathartic and a way to confront issues. I finished reading “Tradition” by Jericho Brown as the #runwithmaud hashtag took hold. These past few years I’ve read several poetry collections by black people, and all confront me w/ my white privilege and my responsibility for it.

    1. Glenda, thank you so much for the input and the challenge. I am so out of touch with books, especially new Pulitzer Prize winners, so I just went to Amazon and did the one-click for my Kindle. I will look forward to reading it and getting stretched more. Yes, I am just praying that more and more white people are stopping to listen and be confronted.

      Looking forward to Saturday,

  3. Your found poem is such a powerful statement about this latest tragedy, white men killing Ahmaud Arbery. It is all the more painful that it took more than two months for any charges…
    “State laws made to justify
    Two people
    Confronting, and
    Absolutely sickening. Yes, may there be national outrage!

    And, yes! yes! to VerseLove! How I loved that April challenge, my first time as well…thanks for the reminder that more writing fun is just around the corner. I’ll see you there!

  4. Thank you so much, Maureen. I appreciate your words and thoughts on Ahmaud’s death. I appreciate your stopping by, and I look forward to seeing you on Saturday.


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