I am trying to figure this out.
I don’t have the answer
What I know:
Our country has gone crazy
The system in need of repair
or perhaps a complete overhaul.
We have to work harder to make
a fairer and better place to live.
Today is uncomfortable for most everyone.
We can’t not talk about racism any longer
We need to hear each other’s pain.
What I hear:
Sirens, weeks and months of sirens
The totemic sound of America today
Helicopters flying low overhead
Chants resounding through the steel
and granite canyons: I Can’t Breathe,
Black Lives Matter, Stop Killing Black People
The pop pop pop of flash grenades
The close range bang of rubber bullets
Tear gas snaking through city streets
Wooden batons cracking against bones
I hear America breaking piece by piece
What I see (mostly on tv)
Angered citizens marching
Through streets to call attention
To the murder of an unarmed black man
By the name of George Floyd
Say his name again, George Floyd
Add the name Ahmaud Arbery
Add the name Breonna Taylor
Add the name, Fill in the blank.
Police fire tear gas and rubber bullets
At protestors so a bible toting
Villain can pose for a photo op,
Macy’s Herald Square on fire,
Ominous graffiti of rage
The Grand Concourse in shards
of glass and looted merchandise
Fort Greene a daily tinderbox
Smell the brimstone in the air.
Remember when we thought 2016
The worst year ever?
I’m so tired of all this winning.
What I feel:
I don’t know, sad, angry, scared, despaired, inspired,
broken hearted, empathetic, hopeless, hopeful,
words that have no place in a well-written poem.
Is justice anything more than punishment
for those we think have done us wrong?
A younger friend asked me if I think
things will get better after this is over.
I couldn’t give him an answer,
though I believe as soon as this shanda
of a president is removed, we begin to heal.
Deep down I believe things have got to change.
Just don’t tell me your vote doesn’t matter.
Danny Shot’s WORKS (New and Selected Poems) was published in March 2018 by CavanKerry Press. Danny is currently head poetry editor of RED FEZ and an associate editor of A Gathering of the Tribes. He was featured on the television show State of the Arts, NJ in July 2018. His play Roll the Dice, co-written with Lawrence Kelly, was performed at the NYC Theater Summerfest in September 2018. He spent over 30 years as a NYC public high school teacher, serving in the South Bronx, Harlem, and Brooklyn. Danny lives in Hoboken, NJ (home of Frank Sinatra and baseball), where he was the most recent poet-in-residence of the Hoboken Museum. Danny Shot was longtime publisher and editor of Long Shot arts and literary magazine, which he founded along with Eliot Katz in 1982 in New Brunswick, NJ. Born in the Bronx and raised in Dumont, NJ by German Jewish refugees, Danny graduated Rutgers College in 1980 with a B.A. in English. Shot’s poetry has appeared in bum rush the page (Def Poetry Jam), Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe (Henry Holt), and The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry (Thunder’s Mouth), among other anthologies and numerous journals.
Image: “resist” by Nicole Monroe