To the white man on the radio
who said violence does not win causes
who said guns do not win wars
I open the annals of history.
The stems of arrows fed the wars
of the roses, and peace has only blossomed
in the mouth of a victor’s gun. Power
is not charity in a benevolent’s hand;
it is gold in a miser’s, wrested away, won
only by the push of force, the pull of reason.
I do not charge men to take arms now
but those in charge have them and abuse them
and let’s not pretend otherwise.
To the Arab man on the radio
who said (through an accent unmitigated
by years of cohabitation) that he has not
experienced racism (or, rather, perceived it)
and that therefore racism does not exist
I say: please, sit down. You have arrived
mid-conversation, and on this occasion
you have the right to remain silent.
To the black man on the radio
who said: Do not speak for us.
Do not tell us how we feel.
and who was asked then:
Why don’t you speak? How do you feel?
but whose words failed him,
I say: You’re right. There are no words,
and there are thunderous words
that strike with a flash of fury.
Like children they ask why the sky
is silent, why now it rips and tears.
Tell them: it has been carrying a load too long,
too big for even the sky to bear.