Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (Evie Shockley—Issue 65, April 2017)
Power and|of|in Poetry

Metta Sáma
Power Poetry Positionality

Dear Lovers:

There are people who have the luxury to not second–third–fourth–guess themselves people who write demeaning poems about menus at Chinese-food restaurants who perform autopsy reports and call it conceptual art who create a campaign of lamenting lamenting the most recently murdered people sans real information real distance real absorption of what it means to be a civilian killed by officers what it means to be the family the friends of that civilian who know there will be no justice for that person who was just playing on the playground or playing in the store or driving or running away away people who were alive and breathing one day and shot in the head by the police the next. The poet giovanni singleton has this brilliant piece, a visual glimpse into what the words “shoot” “don’t” and “don’t shoot” mean when one holds a camera or one holds a gun. What the capturing of a murder means. Why it matters & how & why it doesn’t matter & how it doesn’t matter & who it matters to & how it matters to them & who could, my Loves, give a fuck less.

Lovers, there are people in this world who have the luxury to pretend that words carry no power they are the grown people who still sing that childish song comparing physical weapons to words people who believe that people will only remember how you made them feel but not the words that provided those feelings. It’s easier that way. & of course we recognize the sheer irony of needing words to make us believe that words hold no power.

On the radio a reporter talks about the tragedy of dead fish in the Yellowstone River the fish have been killed they say. It’s called a fish-kill. In Dutch kill means stream or channel or creek. When the reporters want to tell us the police have killed someone they don’t say kill they say fatally shot or they say the police shot a suspect who later succumbed to their injuries. We leave kills for fish or we leave kills for non-officers who do the same thing officers do but without a badge.

Yesterday I ran into a student on my walk to campus & she pulled her earbuds out so we could talk & talk & talk and before long she looked at me and said “I just want to be great”. I nearly melted right there on the sidewalk. “I just want to be great” a black young woman says on a pathway leading from her college classes to her dorm room. A 7–minute walk of white greats who founded the school who brought fame to the church who are buried in the cemetery. “I just want to be great”. And with those words dancing on her tongue floating in her mind confetti’ing in her pupils, she will be. She said it aloud & we both felt the extraordinary power in those words. Be Great.

Love ~Metta Sáma