Warming Up: A Poem For Malissa Williams, Timothy Russell & Tamir Rice

I’m feeling quiet…
Shrunken into myself

Unsure of the direction to go
Fight, flight, flee, freeze

My skin is black and chilly to the touch.
Something in my toes is whispering
“You matter.”
But my brain remembers

That my skin is black and chilly to the touch
I’ve become accustomed
To this shame
To this grief
To this inability to move and phrases like
“weary, wounded, and sad” come alive more than
they ever did in a pulpit.
I keep hearing “be peaceful”
“don’t tear up our city”
funny how possession is only granted
when it’s in protection of assets
that have long been snatched from our palms
we built this city
on rock & roll
on steel & roads
and we’re told to be peaceful…
not to burn the rotting spaces
that have made it clear our lives
only have worth to a certain point
on basketball courts… we matter
on football fields… we matter
on itunes sales… we matter
heaven forbid we destroy what’s destroyed us.
My skin is black and chilly to the touch.
There is no scrubbing this sorrow away…
No wailing that is heard from the mountaintops
I’m relegated to poems & protests
My time is spent telling white people about themselves
Because they won’t stare their shame in the mirror
I said I wasn’t going to do this again.
Write from this pain.
But my skin is black and chilly to the touch.
Peace is said to be a period of harmony between
Different social groups that is characterized by
Lack of violence, conflict behaviors and the freedom
From fear of violence.
Peace is not a one-way street.
Peace is not the responsibility of the oppressed.
Peace is supposed to be Shalom…
Which means… justice, good health, safety, well-being
Prosperity, equity, security, good fortune…
So if you want peace…
Give us the space to create our own shalom.
Release the inequitable strong holds,
And hand me these punk ass magical boot straps you been
Waving around as the key to the American dream.
What are you afraid of?
That we’d be just like you?
That the foot off our necks would mean a foot onto yours?
What a sad existence you must live
To find your freedom in bondage of others…
My skin is black and chilly to the touch.
But warming up.

-Eris Zion Venia