Poetry: Tragedy

When I was little

My mom listened to NPR in the morning

And I could listen to horrible things

Car bombs and war

And I was fine.

I could hear them

But I couldn’t comprehend them.

 

And I hated the people

Who turned off the radio

When they reported the dead

Or who watched America’s Next Whatever

When the news had something to say—

How can you hide from tragedy?

How can you disrespect the dead

Like that

To not hear their stories?

 

But as I grow up

I’m beginning to understand

The pain

Of reading down past

The newspaper headlines

The devil is in the details

And the pictures.

Tragedy is just that—

Tragic.

How do you deal with that?

It is so hard

To open my ears

To the cries of a world

Mourning countless deaths, wrongs, unhealable wounds

Because it means

Opening my heart as well.

That’s gonna scar.

 

I understand

The mute radios

And the distracted TVs

Now.

 

But I can’t let myself

Hide from the stories

I have to hear them

These stories need to be shared

These dead need to be mourned

By those one mile away and those on another continent

By those writing eulogies and those listening to them

We need to come together

So that there isn’t a Next Time

To remind us again

What we should have done Last Time

(This Time)

 

I’m older now

And I’m beginning to understand.

These stories can make me cry, now

But they connect me to the rest of humanity

Pulsing with the same grief, rage, confusion

I cry with a chorus of millions,

And from that chorus blossoms the strength.

If this wound must scar

Let it at least be one that reminds us to love

Instead of one that drives us to hate.

 

I would cry harder

If I were a person

Who couldn’t understand at all.


This poem has been building inside of me for a while now, ever since the initial Ferguson shooting and riots, but the recent Charlie Hebdo attack got me to put it down onto paper. I honestly believe that these tragedies need to be talked about, that society should put a premium on acknowledging them instead of hiding from them. I don’t think we should dwell on tragedy, but we all feel these horrific losses, and if we as a world could come together in mourning and stay together afterward–that might be a step toward peace and tolerance.

I know it’s not that simple, but I wish it was. 

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