Poem: I Guess, We Fight, You Act – Scott Woods

I GUESS, WE FIGHT, YOU ACT

I guess my word wasn’t good enough before now, which is funny since my position has never been a secret because my position is my life. I guess you thought we were making up all this gnashing of the teeth. I guess you thought we enjoyed the fashion of hashtags, how we see our deaths trend, strutting down the walkway of our neighborhoods in the deadliest of fashions: black skin in deadly vogue. I guess you thought those slave quilts were just for warmth, not tutelage, not guidance, not north as the river cuts back on the bend. And you want to fight about it, here, where you cannot be touched, where you cannot see me though I can see through you. You want to fight me when there are so many books you could take to task. So many minds. So many movements we have yet to make into movies you can stomach, you can watch  from the safety of your couch. You want to fight me because I am convenient or low hanging fruit or speak too short for proper discourse. You want to fight me because I am not carrying a weapon. You want to fight me because I am a weapon. You want to fight me as if I have not been fighting, as if my burden does not have a weight class, as if my dreams are not nightmares and my nightmares are not realities. You want to fight me as if I have done you wrong beyond how you feel, want to fight me as if what I say is as bad as what you do. Or don’t do. I guess you thought we were being hyperbolic. I guess you thought Trayvon Martin had it coming. I guess you thought we all have it coming. But maybe that is the old you. That is the you before the right broken window, the right news clip, the right dead Black person. If we’re not dead it’s not injustice enough. All of the advice in the world about how we should die better to get you to move, to pretend, to act. You want me to be happy that you are here now, that you are present, that for weeks now you have felt really, really bad about all of this. I have felt really, really bad about all of this my entire life. It doesn’t always look like thrown against the wall or hands behind your back or gunsmoke. Sometimes it looks like you, you not taking my words at face value, acting as if we have been keeping our lethal love with this nation a secret, acting as if we enjoy chewing our own teeth into fangs and nubs, acting as if social media was the depth of our commitment and not our breath, acting as if we were a flavor, acting as if you were invisible or I was invisible or whenever we die we become invisible, acting as if we were a race of pugilists, acting as if we have not written and sang and preached all this before, acting as if there were grade levels to change, acting as if all weapons are equal, acting as if I have been asleep with your eyes full of the silt of sleepwalking in sandstorms, acting as if we do not know the power of name-calling and reclaiming and letting go of masks, acting as if exaggeration and poetry were biological determinism, acting as if the clock starts now, with you, and not back then, with me. Acting as if, as if, as if. Acting as if you were an immensely talented actor.

 

  • Scott Woods (2020)

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