If Riot Means Destruction
By Wesley Rothman
Without the moon we find our lightness whiteness
washed out brightness coming down on us a baton of
unconsciousness unconscienceness the breakage we
didn’t know we could bring riot is not reaction it is
burning down from within how we burn an other’s body
down quietly over time keep the ember humming
blowing blowing blow until the tongue flares
sizzled and singeing riot is the mind of whiteness
looting stores propped in the chest robbing water and
bread to break down the head and will of an other the
riot begins with silence with an attack a drone strike
a sniper some mile off every voice in the street fist cry
every face in the eye of a camera is not a riot
not a threat a force to stop traffic bring on the red lights
shut down the headlights eager to blind bring down
the sky the moon bring down bring down
Poet's note: Poems work like mirrors. But only if we come to them with willingness, desire to listen and witness. If we come to poetry open to what we will find, we may find the despicable parts of ourselves, of the world. We may find hope, or a way through, or a way to better love another person. We may find our outrage with the world. With ourselves. And we may find, in the same poem, a way to overturn ourselves and the murderous parts of the world. When we approach a poem, we approach ourselves. Thank the universe for #BlackPoetsSpeakOut, for the history of voices speaking out, for the voices in our communities and in our twitter feeds and in our poems. Thank the universe for the voices approaching the nation, approaching those of us who need a mirror. We need to listen and amplify.
Wesley Rothman's poems and criticism have appeared or are forthcoming in American Microreviews and Interviews, Crab Orchard Review,New England Review, Post Road, Poet Lore, and Prairie Schooner, among others. He works widely in publishing, and teaches writing and cultural literatures throughout Boston.
This is the 5th post in the 8-part series featuring poets and writers on theme of OUTRAGE. Here is my brief intro to the project.