The Sound of Mourning
A rare poem I wrote about the night of the non-indictment of Darren Wilson.
Have you ever seen a man cry?
Have you ever seen a man mourn?
Have you ever seen a man so torn apart
by his grief and anger
that the shadows of night
are colored by it
and bend to his will?
I’ve seen thousands.
The moment the news comes,
the sound claws over the hills
we drown in it.
A sound that my ears latches onto
in its unfamiliarity:
it’s a keening;
tears its weight
into all of us.
It rises over the concrete hills
of the highway and carries
over the dead of trees
the unsynchronized slaps of boots on gravel.
I stand at the top,
partially as witness
partially as participant.
A witness to this outpouring of grief,
participant of what is to come.
Before this night I had never laid witness to mourning.
Never laid witness to grief.
But on this night
it surrounds me,
ferociously pounds all thoughts of all else
as it decimates
all that is in its path.
This is the time they tell us
we are supposed to believe in our immortality
This false belief should be our downfall
in the vein of Greek tragedy.
far sooner than we were supposed to,
we’ve come face to face with our fate.
there is supposed to be light
and we are supposed to gravitate towards it.
But this night, the world has tumbled out its axis
We seek out the obscure of the night
and it welcomes us in our grief like a prodigal son.
and enfolds us in its embrace.
And we welcome it.
But when the light appears,
as its defenders come
to enforce all that is good
for we are what’s evil.
For so long we have been held synonymous
with the secrets
and fears that the night carried
and tried to run from it.
But no longer.
Not on this night.
As they come for us,
doors open as
speculators come to watch the show.
More faces peer from windows of homes
like we are entertainment on the lawn.
They’ve been waiting for days upon weeks,
wondering what we were going to do
when this day finally arrived.
For as long as we’ve struggled against them,
they have forced our association with darkness
and now wait to see how we will embody it
to exact vengeance.
But we don’t use the nightfall.
Instead, we use their light
as weapon against them.
We cannot make them feel
our pain in the darkness
so we sacrifice it to the flames.
So on this night
the city is illuminated
in our grief,
But no matter how much we sacrifice to flames,
the sounds of mourning drifts through the town
carried through the ghosts of skeletal buildings.
And long after this night
and tragedy dies
this sound will remain
as our anger chokes the city.
And only after this long night
and tragedy dies
as the sun rises,
does my own wail of grief
come ripping out of me.