For a person like me – who has lived through and participated (however little) in the great movements for reform focused on civil right for Blacks, women and American Indians – I found it extremely difficult to say anything about the Ferguson, Missouri riots that occurred this past summer and fall, and still simmer hot. What transforming words were there to be said that hadn’t already been said a hundred thousand times or more? Then I came across these words by Nayyirah Waheed: Some words build houses in your throat. And they live there, content and on fire. However inadequate, the following poem evolved:
Voice! Take a good look at this house built of self-righteous
rage, rants against greed, racism, hatred and discrimination.
Voice! Talk to me about seared timbers, the past’s poison
of pomposity, the current paralysis of silence. Do not spare
rebuke that scours the rot of ennui. Open my ears
to builders who wield new vocabularies – leaders
who practice justice, peace and respect, who
renew flagging energies, who care for the People.
Voice! Help me remodel this house.
Push me. Spend me. I beg fire’s renewal,
its outrage restrained. O Voice, support community
visions that make dreams of jobs materialize.
My Voice! In time remaining, remember to rejoice
with rising sun, for seeds that sprout – the prize to come.
© January 2015