PALMETTO POEM:  Stagnation (a letter 2 America)

Editor’s Note:  Charleston Poet Laureate and others have organized the city’s first monthlong poetry showcase, the Free Verse Festival, which will occur with multiple events this month.  We thought, therefore, it might be a good time to share a poem by Amaker, to introduce the festival to readers.   To take a look at the festival’s variety of offerings, click here

Stagnation (a letter 2 America) (watch video)

By Marcus Amaker, poet laureate of Charleston, S.C.

Amaker (Image by Lisa Livingston)

America has built
too many monuments to war.
Man-made maladies
mounted on Mother Earth.
I’ve seen scars on the skin
of our country’s landscape –
blood-stained band aids
covering exposed bones;
a pain that has not healed.

We hold hatred high
on pedestals
in the name of history.
Birds are perched
on the shoulders of ghosts
God’s perfect, clear byline
as endless skylines of smoke
and division
get played out on television.

this. is. real.

your fetish for warfare
has erected stagnant symbols
of oppression.
Some of your people
are just now awakening
to the discomfort
of the disenfranchised.
Your body has been
blemished by Southern battlegrounds,
bound to a history of violence.

this. is. real.

No statue’s spirit
will wake up to apologize,
but you can.
No system rooted
in racism
will ever empathize,
but you can.
History can not
re-write itself,
but you can.

Simply tell us the truth.

Carve out stones
for freedom fighters,
do more to preserve and promote
the feminine.

Rip off the bandages
without ignoring your bondage.

It’s going to hurt.


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