Poetry is important to me. It is important that I shared it with others. People I love. People I don’t know. I shared it with library patrons, young and old. I shared it with people on the internet. It is why I can stand in front of an iPad each week and read to children. Without poetry, I would never had gotten my current job. I would never have met the friends and coconspirators that I keep. Without poetry, I would not have found my voice.
In early 2020, I had a plan. We were gearing up for a new year and mapping out our future programs. I knew that the library would hold its annual poetry month celebration with a reading, but I wanted to do something for the kids too. Then in March, everything just stopped.
In lieu of the reading and children’s programming, I decided to run a month-long “poetry break” on this blog. It is a tradition that I decided to continue this year. And one that I may continue next year.
Like several people, Covid kept me inside. I watched the news as tensions grew in public. The don’t-tread-on-me crowd began to cry about their civil rights, how it was hard to breathe underneath their masks. They threw tantrums in front of government buildings. Cried their right-wing crocodile tears. Spouted racism and plotted to kill government officials who wouldn’t budge on their stance.
A lot of people want to compare out country’s tragedies to each other. I am almost tempted to do so. After 9/11, we were spoon-fed a narrative. Suddenly, Americans were in agreement about something, no matter their ideology. We were considered truly united in our trying times. And this would be true, if you ignored the racism that followed. All of it swept under the rug for the 10 o’clock feel good fluff piece that played out. We hear didn’t hear how people of Middle Eastern descent and Muslims became the target. It would months after when we woke up from the united fog.
I’m sure the country wanted a repeat of that unitedness, no matter how delusional the idea is. Instead, we seemed more divided than ever. Under the Trump administration, science became public enemy number one. As did common human decency. The back-the-blue crowd became those who attacked them. They compared themselves to Jews during the Holocaust, slaves during slavery. And the great divider just churned it, stoking the fires until January 6, 2021 when it exploded.
We were supposed to be better. We were supposed to be united. And maybe someday we will, but maybe not in our lifetimes.
For the twenty-seventh poem, I have chosen “The Color of COVID” by Darius Simpson.