Take a knee

Take a knee

I am willing to take a knee with thee
and imagine I am sitting at counter in a Kresge
on a lukewarm late winter’s day
in Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston Salem
or Hampton, Virginia

I am willing to take a knee with thee
to hear the aroma of fear turn sweat into scent
and think that the things I buy
I buy with the currency
not of my body
but of my mother’s father’s mother’s decision
to keep reproducing a blanching pigmentation
rather than letting things go another way.

I take a knee with thee alone in my room
knowing that while no one can see me
I have to be willing first to see myself.

And I see myself and say
it is not the spiritual symbolism of my act
that is what must be brought out into public spaces
-actually physical places with truncheons
and kevlar and insults that can be heard up close
even if they are streamed in from afar

I see myself and say
it is not the fear and trembling of my bowels
or an anger so pure in both its shame and dignified
outrage it makes me chant shame shame damn damn
fuck fuck inside while wanting to turn saint
and murderer alike

I see myself on my knees and say
why is it so delicious to long for this day
to count where I stand among thee
while in my heart, in my head
I reach for words in anger that will betray me
so that thou shalt rightly call me
hypocrite

Hypocrite lecteur,
témoin blanche maudite
or whatever exotic words I seek
to shout from the rafters of my bought intellect
that profound self-suspicion about my own voice’s
use.

I take a knee with thee
so you can wrap me in the colors
and shield me from the knowledge
that the undoing of what has been done
we have barely begun.

Publius

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Myrrh

Myrrh

When the pulp on the block
was at last bled out
I looked past
the privy and shamble fence

To the clapboard church
and dog, chained yard patched in
burrs he having swallowed
the creek bank shard
and bones

When that pulp turned hollow
I saw the flint spark
of dry January nights red
eye dust on the sill
those stars counting four footed
spectres

So I chased the chain loose
from my porch and what stole
beyond the barrel bled
out in myrrh.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

This poem appeared in the book Nature published by Writing for Peace, 2015.