Poetry, Politics

SILENCE

There is a ringing in my ears, the steady hum of distant voices

singing with enthusiasm in churches long ago,

four part harmony proclaiming love while people of color

watched white folk sit at the lunch counters.

There is a ringing in my ears, the steady hum of distant voices

giddy because frocks, shoes and jewelry were purchased

and the people of color sat at the back of the bus

after pressing white girls’ dresses.

There is a ringing in my ears, the steady hum of today’s voices

  in posts, tweets and TV interviews searching for peace and justice;

and the President mocks people of faith with a photo-op Bible

as George Floyd’s spirit moves a nation.

There is a ringing in my ears, the steady hum of today’s voices

on streets across this nation, “I can’t breathe!”

The police shoot rubber bullets.  “I can’t breathe!”

Seats of power threaten to silence Americans.  “I can’t breathe!”

There is a ringing in my ears, the steady hum of breathing –

in and out as my rib cage moves, the cadence of life.

George Floyd is still.  History repeated. 

Freedom more rhetoric than practice.

There is a ringing in my ears, the steady hum of silence

by the privileged who know the price paid for their wealth.

There is a ringing in my ears, the steady hum of silence

by churches never confronting bigots in their midst.

There is a ringing in my ears.  I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.  I can’t breathe.  I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.  I can’t breathe.  I CAN’T BREATHE. 

Silence.

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