Poems of the Week, by Ross Gay

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My daughter to me last night, as I weeded the front gardens with empty streets and choppers circling overhead: “Hey Ma. It’s past 8. Curfew.”

Me: “If I see the national guard tearing down the block I’ll just run inside.”

Another conversation I wouldn’t have predicted I’d ever be having, but this is where we are. I’ll be working the rest of my life to undo the racism baked into me, my community, and this country.

 

Pulled Over in Short Hills, NJ, 8:00 AM, by Ross Gay

It’s the shivering. When rage grows
hot as an army of red ants and forces
the mind to quiet the body, the quakes
emerge, sometimes just the knees,
but, at worst, through the hips, chest, neck
until, like a virus, slipping inside the lungs
and pulse, every ounce of strength tapped
to squeeze words from my taut lips,
his eyes scanning my car’s insides, my eyes,
my license, and as I answer the questions
3, 4, 5 times, my jaw tight as a vice,
his hand massaging the gun butt, I
imagine things I don’t want to
and inside beg this to end
before the shiver catches my
hands, and he sees,
and something happens.

A Small Needful Fact, by Ross Gay

Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.

 

For more information about Ross Gay, please click here.

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