Poetry for this day

I’m still struggling with this day, with the Bell verdict, with the desire to just sit down and cry … which I managed not to do all day at work, but gave into as soon as I walked in the door tonight (and then had to push it back because my friend from the pet store was on his way over to deliver next month’s supplies for the boys).  I’m really not sure what to do with the despair I’m feeling right now, what to do that will make me feel less impotent, less marginalized, less erased and disenfranchised.

I’ve gotten interested in the tanka form after my week of poetry, and have been trying to work with it a little.  On the way home, I tried and came up with:

Tanka for Sean Bell

The verdict came down
my heart so full I lost speech.
Around me, people:
laughing, talking, their hearts free
I sink into my sadness.

I wish it was a little more … something. Yes, a little more good, but I’m giving myself a pass in the quality department today.

Then I remembered Langston Hughes’ “Puzzled,” a poem that touches a little on the frustration and anger I’m feeling tonight, on the sadness and hopelessness and confusion.


Here on the edge of hell
Stands Harlem —
Remembering the old lies,
The old kicks in the back,
The old be patient,
They told us before.

Sure, we remember.
Now, when the man at the corner store
Says sugar’s gone up another two cents,
And bread one,
And there’s a new tax on cigarettes —
We remember the job we never had,
Never could get,
And can’t have now
Because we’re colored.

So we stand here
On the edge of hell
In Harlem
And look out on the world
And wonder
What we’re gonna do
In the face of
What we remember.

He’s always going to be more articulate that I am.  The poem isn’t exactly where I’m feeling … but it is, too. And then you get to the end and it’s all right there.  Thank you, Langston, for having the words I wasn’t finding.

2 thoughts on “Poetry for this day

  1. I think your poem is a lovely tribute. I just got angry and ranted (more like your latest post but less thought provoking; just angry). I’m beginning to believe that the only way police officers will ever be convicted when they shoot an unarmed black man is if they all empty their weapons, reload, then stand over the body and empty them again, reload and then shoot a few more times. Then maybe the justice system will stop and say “Oh, well that was excessive.”


  2. Pingback: NYC goddam « collecting tokens

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