Running in America
My son is a runner. Each night
he parts the darkness, his stride
opening and closing like a heart
valve. Opening and closing,
a fist inside my head. I know
the histories that wait for him
like an open grave. In Georgia
men waited for a jogger like my son.
Hunted him with their truck,
then killed him in the street.
Their grandfathers would have taken
him into a field of townspeople,
their boots polished and knives
sharp as teeth, or strung him
upside down like Mary Turner,
belly split, baby crushed beneath
the heels of these good citizens.
Can I scream now? Count the things
he can’t outrun? Raze this fetid land
with fire? My son runs on.
He thinks about the girl he saw
yesterday, a test he must take,
the future he is running toward.
Kneeling Is No Longer An Option
If I could fill up this whole sheet of paper
with rage, I would fill it up like this
rage, rage, rage, rage, rage,
or I could put rage to the 100th power
like mathematicians who want to express
a number that is too big so their hands will not
get tired of writing all the zeros plus
it is inefficient to write all those zeroes
like my rage is often inefficient when
I watch the news or look at social media
and I see people lying on my people and I see
my people trying to say what is true over and over
and over and over and over and over
and over to the 100thpower and I see them
telling us there wouldn’t be any problems
if we would respect, respect, respect
to the 100th power the flag and all the other institutions
that have been created to kill us to the 100th
power and I am Fannie Lou Hammer sick and tired
of being sick and tired and this rage is a laser
incinerating to the 100th power my insides
one cell at a time and that may not be scientific
but it is a statistical fact I will die younger
and suffer more chronic disease like
hypertension because to put all that pressure
on a body not made to withstand it
is like riding around on tires made for 32 psi
that are filled with 32 psi to the 100th power though
it is not physically possible to put that much
rage in a tire without it blowing up in your face.
Jacqueline Allen Trimble is Professor of English and chairs the Department of Languages and Literatures at Alabama State University. A Cave Canem Fellow and an Alabama State Council on the Arts Literary Fellow, her poetry has appeared in The Louisville Review, The Offing, and Poet Lore. A recent essay, “A Woman Explains How Learning Poetry is Poetry and Not Magic Made Her a Poet” appears in Southern Writers on Writing. Other work may be found online, in journals and in anthologies. American Happiness, her debut collection, won the 2016 Balcones Poetry Prize.
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