A Poem on Generations Witnessing Cycles of Death and Destruction (Audio)Tamiko Beyer's poem serves as a painful reminder of how "horde white-hot power" causes "rage that liquefies/ our hearts, whole communities."
Tamiko Beyer reads “As if balanced on light.”
As if balanced on light
By Tamiko Beyer
Even dying, sand-speckled, drying, jellyfish can stingâ€” their streaming arms
non-ambulatory and toxic. Strange creatures with no blood. Knowing we were about to dive
into the water, we did not linger to gaze on their gelatinous bodies shimmering on the New England beach.
I was thick on your fingers. We swam through the deep, Emerged to a seagull pulling flesh
from shattered shell: red, salty, slick.
Who puts automatic weapons in the hands of cops? Who witnesses the killing
of black teenage boys? Generations and generations. Shot up in a cop car, shot up on the corner.
A rage that liquefies our hearts, whole communities spilling into the streets, drenched.
The president sends in the national guard. His skin not white like the others, but the papers
he signs just as white, bloodless. Not shot up on the corner,
followed by secret service. Hand to system strategizing sieges. Horde white-hot power.
When I was a child, so many queer men died their bodies porous
to the worldâ€™s infections. Cankers blistering on their skin, muscles shrinking to bone.
A societal seizure of unseeing, we turned from sweat-soaked sheets
to skating rinks. The men contagious and unknowing burrowed into each other’s bodies,
alive with sex. I did not know then they were kin.
Later, in the water, a welt on my forearm, a sting. Later, in bed, your teeth on my skin.
What to do with this desperate desire to reconcile our yearnings
and our bloodshed? The thief that makes us long for something greater than ourselves.
All night long we were bruised and culpable, responsible and willfully ignorant. I give you thisâ€” the only thing to offer up:
my body splayed, its stalwart, bloody sound.
Tamiko Beyer is the author of “We Come Elemental” (Alice James Books, 2013) and “bough breaks” (Meritage Press, 2011). Her poems have appeared in The Denver Quarterly, Dusie and The Volta.Wait, before you go…
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