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Sunday, January 26, 2020


by Marsha Owens

Gun rights advocates and militia members gather in Virginia's capitol to protest potential gun control bills. Credit: JACK GRUBER, USA TODAY, January 21, 2020.

The inspiration for Rumors of War is war—
is an engagement with violence.
—Kehinde Wiley

marched around my town like Grant went through Richmond my daddy would’ve said if he were still alive, and he would’ve harrumphed at the overkill in the news again, then he would’ve lit another cigarette and gone to bed, and everybody else in town would do the same time because it was ten o’clock and it wasn’t 2020 yet, like yesterday, Martin Luther King day, when a band of 22,000 strangers from God knows where gathered at the Virginia State Capitol, once the proud capital of the confederacy (big C) all tightly strapped and wrapped in artillery and more goddam ammunition than I ever care to see, and I was a prisoner in my own house, waiting all day for the sound of gunshots in my own yard. Do not go near the Capitol! we were warned. Some people called in sick, some gathered with friends, some went to churches to pray, some, like me, tried not-so-successfully to stay calm, to not get anxious or drunk, to not curl into the fetal position, and today we’re told it was a fine protest, no shots fired, no injuries, no deaths.

But I am traumatized, so do not try to tell me that what happened last week in my city was non-violent and peaceful. Terror wore heavy boots, stomped loudly, and we were sore afraid.

As the day waned into a purple sky, I looked again at the statue—not Grant’s, but of a young black man atop a magnificent steed, just recently come to Richmond to remind us of our dark past, its terror glorified in our streets and I remember how art can sometimes teach us by drawing our eyes to the light, even when danger lingers in shadow.

The “Rumors of War” statue by artist Kehinde Wiley was unveiled in Richmond on [December 9, 2019]. The sculpture depicts an African American man with a crown of dreadlocks, wearing urban clothes and sneakers and sitting astride a horse (Steve Helber/AP via The Washington Post, December 11, 2019.

Marsha Owens lives and writes in Richmond, VA. Her writing has appeared in both print publications, including The Huffington Post, Wild Word Anthology, The Sun, and online at TheNewVerse.News, Poets Reading the News, Rat’s Ass Review, and Rise Up Review. She is a co-editor of the recently published poetry anthology Lingering in the Margins and a proud recipient of the Leslie Shiel Scholarship Award for Writers Who Read, awarded through the Visual Arts Center in Richmond.