Poetry, Race & Politics, Writing
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Saint Paul Morning

Michael Kleber-Diggs at July 13, 2016 Black Poets Speak Out event [credit: Tom Baker, MPR News, 2016]

By Michael Kleber-Diggs

The author originally read this piece on July 13, 2016 at the Black Poets Speak Out event held in response to the shooting death of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, MN. Learn more and listen to an excerpt from his reading on the MPR website

Morning, walking
my neighborhood
I come upon a colony
of ants busy at work.
I take care not to step
on any and miss them all,
then encounter, up a ways,
a fellow traveler greeting the day.
I am frightening her.  No.
She is afraid of me.

Is she an introvert?
Is she a neighbor? Is she
just in from the ‘burbs,
from the country?
Is she scared of the inner city?
Am I the inner city?
Is she racist? Aren’t I
the one who should be wary?
Or is she a survivor –
like me?

It can’t be what I’m
wearing: khaki’s, a blue
& white check button-down,
short-sleeve shirt, those Keen
sandals I favor because
they’re comfortable, my
feet can breathe in them.
You guys, I am the nicest man on earth.
And I want to shout morning!

Just then a weaver, or carpenter,
just then a pharoah or fire
or pavement, just then a little black
ant struggles by alone, alone.
And in that moment I want us
to give ourselves over
to industry, to carry the weight
of the day together and lighten it.
I want to be a part of a colony
where I can be comfortable,
where I can breathe, building
structures sturdier and grander than
this — as the woman crosses over
to the other side of the street,
and I do what I usually do:
retreat into myself as far
as I can and send out to her
whatever’s left.

[Header image: Tom Baker, MPR News, 2016]

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