Quivering Bows (Poem)

(After watching the story reported on the news today, seeing posts and comments from my friends on social media, a poem began stirring up inside of me. I wasn’t going to write or say anything, but it has pressed on my heart so much that I just couldn’t fight it anymore. As an African American woman I want to encourage all my people, and I hope that they’ll stop choosing to ignore it or pray it away and actually choose to make a difference; to do something positive. I hope that my friends and those who are non-Black will see the injustice for what it is and not be afraid to stand with us for what is right.

Nothing changes when we choose to sweep it all under the rug and pretend it isn’t there. The problem is there, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. The question is, what are going to do about it?)

Quivering bows
The violin plays
They say
Stop it with these swan songs
Stop whining
No one cares
Okay?

But we continue to play them
Anyway
Will somebody
Anybody
Hear the cries of my people
Amongst the outcries
Of the turning
Of the tide?

Will you hear us
Or will you ignore us?
We will not go away
We will continue to play
Our melancholy melodies
Until we’re blue in the face
Until we’re sprayed down with mace
Beaten with night sticks, billy clubs
Trodden underneath horseshoes
Beaten with man’s fist
Until we can’t breathe
Shot down
Until we can’t move
Gasping
With trash bags tied around our necks

And in the midst of this
We still have our own selves
To deal with
When they send out a spray
Of bullets
And paint our neighborhoods red
Man, woman and child
They don’t care
No, no one cares I do believe

But we quiver along, anyway

Will you hear us
Or will you ignore us?
I wonder

I resisted to no avail
And now I’m tired of holding back
I will say this:

I am sick
And tired
Of walking on egg shells
Around my White friends
And counterparts
And I am fed up
With the callousness
On all sides
The apathy
The lack of response
Until we actively respond
To the aftermath
Of another life gone
With something that called
For a proactive people
To be in place
I am so through with people
All people
Being so disengaged

They say racism is to blame
But every other day
I look up
And it seems
All I see
Is evil

Evil
Does not care if you are a church goer
Or in the streets trying to make a hustle
Evil
Does not care if you are pro life
Or pro choice
Evil, oh yes, evil, evil, evil
Doesn’t care if you were born this way
Or if you choose be satisfied
with what God gave you
Evil does what it does
It is indiscriminate
It feeds off of your phobia
Xeno- or
Homo-
It feeds off of your hate
Prejudice
Racism
Discrimination
Genocide

Evil is evil
All the same
But the thing that hurts the most
Is when my people are hit
And our mouths are duck taped
With an “All Lives Matter”
Scribbled across
As we are forcibly shoved down
And silenced away into our graves

He probably deserved it
(That’s what they’ll say)
He had a gun
(That’s what they’ll focus on)
But no one will mention
How a man
Who had his hands
Behind his back
And a gun on top of his head
With officers holding him down
Lost his life today
They will only consider
To shift blame
And again
They will try to snatch that stringed
Instrument
Out of our hands
As they say

Why does it always have to be about race?
Why are you always pulling the
Black Card?
He got what he deserved
You all get what you deserve
What’s wrong with you people?
Get over it, get over it
We don’t want to hear that anymore

I fight the tears
And the anger
Pounding inside my chest
No
No one considers
That we are exhausted
And we are weary
Of singing the same tune
Over and over again
To the same audience
Because no one else will sit
And listen

Lord,
I’m praying someone else
Other than my own people
Will listen
God, please
Can’t You please make them listen?
Make them pay attention
Make my people pay attention
And wake up

Will you hear our screams
Or will you continue to ignore us?

I was born from a generation
Who had to fight for everything they had
Just so I could have
And now
I come from and walk among
A generation
Who doesn’t know how to fight
Who refuses to lead
And now
Is having to learn the hard way
Nothing is promised
And the fight is far from over
A group of people
Surrounded by crumbling buildings
And foundations
Covered by concrete dust
Who are beginning to see
And growing to accept
This battle will go on for the rest
Of their lives

We don’t know how to fight
We barely care about ourselves
And now
We are finally catching on
To what those before us
Already knew
The world is not as fair a place for us
As we thought it to be
It used to
Or so it seemed

We are tired of drowning in our tears
And our blood
We are tired
We are exhausted
But the thing about my people
Is that you can beat us
You can hang us
And string us up on a tree
Tar and feather us
Leaving burning crosses in our yards
You can fire your rounds
Your water cannons
Sic your dogs
Trade in those physical chains
For mental ones
And systematically
Grind us to the point
Where we throw up our hands
Shrug our shoulders
And question what we should do
And if anything can be done at all
And yet still
We will continue to rise
Like a phoenix springing up
From the ashes
Like the sun over the mountaintop
You can do and say
Whatever you want
But you can’t get rid of us
We’re here to stay
And right now
We are refusing to step aside
We refuse to move out of the way

My people are tormented
They are crying out in agony
Can you not feel their pain?
No I will not get over it
No I will not remain silent
No I will not be a good little negro
Any longer

Will you ignore us
Or will you hear us?
Will you ignore us
Or will you hear us?
Will you ignore us
Or will you hear us?

Take away the bows
The violin
And we’ll still make noise
We’ll shout, we’ll cry
Until that quiver pours out
From our bones
And leaps out
Through our fingertips, our very
Being
As it strings along our vocal cords
Slinking away
From one person to the next
We are all one
We are one harmonious symphony

Will you hear the cries of a hurt culture
Or
Will you simply put on your rose-colored
Headphones
And tune us out?

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