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Saturday, July 09, 2016


for James Baldwin
by Carolyn Gregory

“The week started with scenes from a cellphone video of an African-American man lying on the ground being fatally shot by a Louisiana police officer, and an astonishing Facebook Live feed of a woman in Minnesota narrating after her African-American boyfriend was killed by an officer during a traffic stop. It ended with horrific live television coverage of police officers’ being gunned down by at least one sniper at what had been a peaceful march protesting the police shootings.” —The New York Times, July 8, 2016 Photo: A spray-painted mural on a building on Foster Drive in Baton Rouge, La., on Thursday, where Alton Sterling was shot to death by a police officer two days earlier. Credit William Widmer for The New York Times.

No, I do not want to be integrated
into a burning house
where the roof collapses
and firemen die in the rubble,

forced to stay silent when
the sirens fly by in the dark
and guns shoot the innocent.

I do not want to live
in a field of burning red poppies,
shocking in their color
against fallen gray homes
bombed down to bedrock.

My life means more than this.
I am not ready to walk silent
into a cemetery to lie down
with all the unnamed dead.

Carolyn Gregory has published poems and music reviews in American Poetry Review, Cutthroat, Main Street Rag, Wilderness House Literary Review, Ygdrasil, Seattle Review. Her first and second books were published by Windmill Editions in Florida.