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Being in the world

I am in the world. And what other world is there?

Hiding from the grief of the world is like trying to hide from God.

And what will I do if they come for me?

Everywhere I go, I need an escape plan.

Even in my own home.

I think I have built this house I'm expected to write a poem about.

But I am not okay.

I am a pendulum between joy and despair.

Split in pieces and slowly dying. I swing and never land.

Last night, I did not sleep. And now that there is daylight,

I've made some tea. I don't know

whether this burning in my chest is heartburn or anxiety.

I worry for my soon to be husband, for my mother, my father,

for what life I might bring into this world. I am ashamed.

I felt grateful for having left the teaching profession.

I feel guilty for having not returned. And my therapist

will probably tell me I'm too hard on myself. And I

should take into account X, Y and Z reasons it was best for me to leave.

Where is it safe? Asking for a friend. Asking for the world. Asking for myself.

Asking for every student. Asking for their teachers.

Asking for grocery shoppers. Asking for church goers. Asking for the next

concert I go to. Asking for when I walk across the street.

Asking for my skin. Asking for anyone Black.

For everyone othered and minoritized. For all the intersections

that make targets out of our backs. Where is it

safe? I am holding on because I still hope.

I can wield much of my imagination but I am no wizard.

Deep down I know. I may not live to see tomorrow.

But today. I have my head on a swivel.

I have eyes in the back of my head.

I know all of my hiding places. I know

I won't get far running with this body. I am

a crumbling wall but a pile of bricks is better

than nothing at all. I am not surprised.

The gun has more protection than I do.

I didn't want to write anything

until I could make it hopeful. Until I could lift

it high enough for a breath above the water.

Staying under is more about how long I can hold a breath

than it is about enjoying the swim. In this life,,

I am practicing to be a mermaid without gills. I try to hold

my breath longer each time but drowning is always one minute away.


it was Buffalo. Yesterday

it was Sandy Hook. Yesterday

it was Waffle House. Yesterday

it was Columbine. Yesterday

it was Nevada. Yesterday

it was Parkland. Yesterday

it was Emanuel AME Church. Yesterday

it was too many. Yesterday

it was too many. And today,

how many is it today?

I am in the world and every day I fight to not be consumed

I rather be chewed up than swallowed whole

I think of being unarmed and shot

I think of cops being afraid of the sight of me

I think of being mistaken for someone else

I think of the same cops afraid of an unarmed Black body

afraid to shoot an armed murderer

I think of how much more alive a mass murderer is than

Tamir and Trayvon and Atatiana and Rekia and Breonna

and Ahmaud and Amadou and how alive do I have to be

in this world to be alive when I only know these names

because they are in fact dead. Shot.

The gun had more protection than they did.

I didn't want to write anything. I am only writing as

to not lose my mind. I've got more words than I have protection.

I want to keep writing until I find the hope in this

but it's not hope I think we should be looking for at all

It's something else that's built like fire.

And it burns like hell.

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