Letter to June Jordan in September

Letter to June Jordan in September

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I cannot pass the anniversary of that first news event of childhood without returning to your poem. How from my house I watched. And watching, watched my grief-stricken parents unable to speak. How I leaned into the screen, the chords of the cries, searching for what was recognizable of fingers and thighs, of bracelets and moustaches. Macabre arrangement of bodies with names like our own. I cannot pass without your words. Something about witnessing twice removed. About distances magnified by the shift into language. Of dailyness and my own children’s vernacular and the machine. Grinding us all in its jaws. I met a girl from the camp at a reading in Beirut. She asked if we could talk about the life of poetry. Our families are hauled off to the world of the dead and every day it is on screen. In Gaza we’re watching Ferguson and in Atlanta we’re watching Jerusalem watching Minneapolis watching. Their weapons and their training programs indistinguishable. The word almost flickers for a nanosecond. Here I note the shelf-life of self-censorship, legacy of our era. Some days poems are scrawled on pieces of cardboard and carried on our shoulders at the protest like martyrs. Here I should say something about hope. Here I should say something about living.

 

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