YESTERDAY AND TODAY’S OUTRAGE
By Vanessa Willoughby
No miracles are required
To be black in America.
It takes one drop pumped through sprawling generations
A predisposition to nervous conditions
And a house that ripples with spirits.
Maybe a last name that never really belonged to you,
Or fit the grooves of your mouth,
Proof of a tangled narrative, a different country
Bound and gagged.
Grandparents who know that the word Negro
Fell out of fashion for the word Thug.
Mothers and fathers who warn of uniformed contract killers
Who act like proud poachers.
The white world demands the ease
Of an accepted revolution
Floating drugged out on the expectations of nothing, wrapped
In bed with their everyday monsters. Close your eyes
And pretend that your noose is a necklace.
The black body
Can be paid off with the wrong ballot or the right bullet
Saturated dreams that smell sickly like rotted meat, pain
The black body
Is still feared in the stillness of death.
They are afraid of their ghosts,
They believe they are harder to live with
Than the weight of mercy denied.
When you are black in America
There’s always the chance that the sirens will pass you
Like a runaway carnival, ruthless driver behind
The wheel flying past controlled consciousness.
The minute you can breathe again
Hands will encircle your neck
Anger appeased with the silence of your pulse.
Vanessa Willoughby is a writer and editor. She is currently working on her first novel.
This is the last post in the 8-part series featuring poets and writers on theme of OUTRAGE. Here is my brief intro to the project.