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Reminded me ... 

 

am here where I live
near to that place
known to those here before
and to them for forever
as the center
of the world

those of us here who can see
in George Floyd’s color
and because of his color
his last breath taken
in such a way,
ourselves,
ourselves
and our brothers and fathers
sons and friends,
those of us black here,
men,
we are a small number
we are a small number

so
to see that black people
were not a large part
of those protesting
George Floyds’ murder here
it was not surprising to me,
I didn’t know it was occurring
don’t know I would have gone
if I’d known,
many reasons why in such an isolated place
in such a small place
black people may not
show up in force,
even again
hearts’broken

what surprised me
and it surprised me
as I watched video after video
posted by the reporter for NCJ
was the vehemence and emotion
with which the people there chanted
Black
Lives
Matter!!!
this group of near 500 people
the vast majority of them white,
that number in itself hard to reconcile
this place home to few
relatively speaking

I listened as I watched,
hearing
that first time
it chanted,
the call then response
and I felt no embarrassment for them
in their saying

I felt no
lie,
no weakness at the bottom,
hollow tone,
stammer,
I felt no embarrassment
and so
felt none for them

as the rain poured down

this crowd of 500 men and women
and children,
the vast majority of them white people
but made up of all it seemed
those
who make up this community here
near
the place
once known by all living round
for thousands of years
as the Center of the world

it didn’t take me very long
before feeling proud of them
was the feeling I recognized
was what I was experiencing

I was proud,
unable to doubt their sincerity
willing to continue this they did
from early evening deep into the night
rain pouring

covering what ground they would,
taking over the main thruway
one way thru town
both ways and side roads,
over hours of time,
the rain pouring down

I could not help but see
that at least these,
at least these,
could see black life
as life

could see black life as life,
no less valuable than other life

could see black man as man

allowing me to let go
of my frustration
with Blue lives mattering
and all ...

they understood,
allowed me my accepting my understanding

and they took every minute available
to say that
Sunday, that early evening thru to after midnight,
some,
and were allowed to,
unorthodox as their protesting was
and as
in the face of authority as it was

to say that and to say
it was wrong, what was done
to George Floyd

it was for this reason
I decided to make this place my home,
thirty years ago now,
got here and could see
despite hatred straightforward and blatant
and its other side
what’s accepted
as caring for all, to be proud of,
the borders and barriers
firmly in place
plainly seen and pointed out,
for those unaware

that Truth lived here,
resonating,
needful to be for me
somewhere

felt it in the air
soon after arriving,
felt it again
strong
like it used to be
watching those walking their way
to saying
I see in myself that man,
dead there,
killed by one representing our government
blatantly murdered
while those like me could do nothing
but stand there,
frozen in place
by others badged and gunned,
fearful

I see my father, my brother, my husband,
my son, my friend,
that life
taken that way
that day
I can’t see its difference,
mine

it’s wrong

 

... and shocking ...

somehow doesn’t say enough
for them,
as it doesn’t
for me
as
statement
from the one representing to us
and the rest of the world
the city on the hill
we’re supposed to be

the
LIGHT
of the world,
it’s hope

Not us

Where the light?

Not us,
where the light?

from shocking
to shooting,
no empathetic understanding
some place there in between

like that of these 500

our president can’t see,
like the governor
of Mississippi,
like
the governor of Mississippi,
reason for much comment,
not much done wrong
until the burning and looting

America uncaring
while all the bullies
around the world
do what they will to their George Floyds,
where from
comes the light?

if not from us
where from comes the light?

me,
none of this done, hateful and evil
acceptable
comes as surprise
even from that far on high,
it doesn’t surprise me of him,
it doesn’t surprise me
of an American president,
it doesn’t surprise me
what surprised me
was the Truth I saw
here
in the children and older people

in men and women who
me in my passing day after day
in so many situations
I would not see
in their actions towards me
and reaction to me,
recognition
that I am a man
who’s black

that I am a man who’s black

some of this day to day,
me,
I can accept that

they showed me and I think anyone
able to see,
that they saw a man who was black,
murdered
and it mattered to them

there is no question for me
that the Light is not coming
from the White House,
making it plainly known
for his reasons
so that we cannot mistakenly think
it’s there
somewhere

for now
instead of dwelling deeper into
my knowing the darkness enveloping,
I will spend more time
inside myself
in the LIGHT!! seen again,
here

reminiscent in its way
of back in the day

of reggae at the Jambalaya
of Bishop at the Ritz
of a spirit shield for 70 dollars
made for me
on lambskin white and unblemished,
feathers blue and brown and grey
hanging along the sides
dolphins jumping in the air
and waves
and at its center
the dove,
reminded me of those days

of Logan and Kakun and RJ
and the ladies
loving,
the music, the continual from Club West to the Ritz
to the Backstage to the club on the Bay
thru the streets movement,
people

the drums beating thru the night
on Arcata plaza

the drums beating
and Don’s

reminded me of the people
who sent to the state capital steps
a cross on wheels,
that said
JESUS SAID SHELTER THE HOMELESS,
reminded me of that

of fire in the firepit and music

they reminded me of that
of those days
of those people

feels good to be reminded of those days
thank you
for reminding me of why I came back here
that time back then
and reminding me that
sometimes it’s me

thank you for caring,
for understanding

there’s something about this place
something about this place

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Gregory Downing

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