Unrest in Baton Rougeby Tracy K. Smith
after the photo by Jonathan Bachman*
Our bodies run with ink dark blood.
Blood pools in the pavement’s seams.
Is it strange to say love is a language
Few practice, but all, or near all speak?
Even the men in black armor, the ones
Jangling handcuffs and keys, what else
Are they so buffered against, if not love’s blade
Sizing up the heart’s familiar meat?
We watch and grieve. We sleep, stir, eat.
Love: the heart sliced open, gutted, clean.
Love: naked almost in the everlasting street,
Skirt lifted by a different kind of breeze.
–from Wade in the Water (Graywolf Press, 2018)
* The photo by Jonathan Bachman is famous and can be seen here: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/jonathan-bachman-unrest-in-baton-rouge.
Smith is the former two-time poet laureate of the United States. Wade in the Water is her most recent collection. She also hosts a quite good podcast called The Slowdown, in which she reads and discusses a poem of someone else’s work. Today’s poem is for those who are upholding the principle of free speech and assembly to protest injustice in our criminal justice system.
Read yesterday’s Thought. Thought of the Day (TOD) is selected by Rick Larios, Monday-Friday, minus public holidays and an arbitrarily chosen summer vacation. Saturday and Sunday, Stacey will be selecting TODs from the archives of past postings. Often, but not always, a comment comes with the quote. TOD originates as a personal email list-sharing and is further shared here with permission. A poem appears in full on Fridays; the copyright belongs to the poet and/or publisher. Buy poetry you like. It will be good for you, good for poets, and order from your local community bookstore and it will be good for them too.