A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
after Kimberly Jones
I don’t know much about God, but I remember
when I taught 7th grade history in a ghetto and Kelvin
told me how he found a body on his walk to school.
Kelvin’s stare was not the stare of some old war
veteran, but the stare of a child who knows
his history was written long before my class.
So here’s what this old white history teacher learned
from Kelvin and the Black kids in the ghetto school.
Today our laws will not save us. So we pray
blessed be the soul of Michael Brown, who died
a few miles from here, and the soul of George Floyd,
who died just upriver, and all those “yearning to breathe.”
We pray blessed is the man who breaks the glass
the woman who burns the Target. Blessed be the rage.
Blessed be the rage that so little has changed
from Emmett Till to Eric Garner. Blessed be.
Blessed be the rage of a man risks Covid-19
to carry a sign that says, “Black Lives Matter.”
Blessed be the rage of the woman who asks
“Why is that looter infuriated?” and not
“What is that looter stealing?” Blessed be.
Blessed the man who remembers Ahmaud Arbery
and the woman who remembers Rosewood.
Blessed be those who remember that Black folks
in Greenwood, Tulsa, were bombed from the air.
And blessed the Black woman, who looks straight
into this old white teacher’s eyes, and says,
“Blessed are the Black folks who remember,
after 400 years of slavery and oppression,
that the goal is equality and not revenge.”
Copyright 2020 John Samuel Tieman