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Jan 2017
on tuesday,
dylann roof was sentenced to his death.
on tuesday we tried
to make one body feel like nine.
to make one body feel like justice.
on tuesday we said
there has got to be some price to pay
for entering the house of god
with a sinful tongue
and a handgun.

today,
six days later,
we remembered the rev. dr. martin luther king, jr.
we looked at the world,
called it a place with potential for change,
called it that because there has to be some softer way
to look at bloodshed,
for sanity’s sake.
if not then
all that remains is a solitary image of dr. king rolling in his grave because he knows,
knows that breathless black bodies
are a constant,
are transcenders of time,
whether sunken in rivers,
hung from taut ropes,
or bathing in blood on historic church floors,
singing, singing, screaming, shrill
for some messiah bringing mercy, mercy, mercy.

felicia sanders wants mercy:
prays for it, wills it down from up above,
unfolded from the hands of god
so that it might fall upon the head and in the eyes
and within the very being
of the man who killed her son.


it takes a certain grace —
one so foreign to me i can hardly write of it —
to see god in such men who deliberately defy Him,
to ask that heaven’s gates
be so indiscriminate and overt.
i would want him to burn for this.
but it is not my say,
not my life,
not my long, resounding, unflinching “hallelujah!”
not my certain type of grace.

breathless black bodies
are a constant,
are transcenders of time, a recurring motif.
but so too, then, is the black body full
of breath,
that inhales and exhales faith
without ceasing.

such is the black body
that sees a little bit of god in dylann roof,
that prays that he prays for forgiveness,
that thinks there to be but one kingdom,
and he, too,
a worthy subject.

the solitary image of dr. king rolling in his grave
is not a surprise.
the black body has always known
so well
how to die.

but felicia sanders hopes her son’s killer finds mercy.
perhaps the one thing the black body has always known better
is how to love.

(a.m.)
written 1.16.17 in honor of MLK day, and of the charleston church shooting victims. #blacklivesmatter, today, tomorrow, and always
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