Digital Anthropologists Find Our Hashtags" for its Poets Respond series. The poem explores specifically the consecutive shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, by police officers in the first full week of July.
Just hours after I submitted the poem, a sniper killed and wounded police officers in Dallas, Texas. That week of July brimmed too much with violence, grief, and pointed fingers. So, although I was pleased Rattle had accepted the poem, I was also too through with humanity to share at this blog my poem's publication on Tuesday, July 12.
I share it now because since then I've gotten notes and calls from people telling me how they felt about the poem, which you may read at Rattle's site. Acknowledging publication at my blog is appropriate.
The poem was one of two the magazine published that week following the shootings. On Sunday, July 10, the site posted "The Dead Line," a poem by Nicole Homer, a poem that uses repetition to good effect.
Also, the website for the Academy of American Poets, Poets.org, published a poem by the current Poet Laureate for the United States, Juan Felipe Herrera, entitled "@ the Crossroads--A Sudden American Poem." Herrera's verse also addresses the present crisis and sorrow of police relationships with black and brown communities. Clearly he wrote his poem after the Dallas tragedy because the epigraph names the slain officers and is dated July 10. Homer and I wrote our poems before Dallas.
Sadly, by the time America solves this problem, by the time we all do the hard work of facing the root causes of this race-related crisis and too often reasonable distrust of police of officers, the world may have volumes of poems exploring or tackling this subject. There is no easy solution here because solutions means behaviors and systems must change, and people fear change, especially when change challenges the foundation of long-held world views and practices.
Verse can soothe, make space for catharsis, and initiate dialogue beyond the heated center. Poetry may not be as popular as it once was in this nation, but the art remains a source humans turn to during troubling hours.