In our churches and in our night clubs
In our schools and nursing homes
Libraries, businesses, movie theaters
Hotels, plazas, parks
Rehabilitation centers and homes
Highways and city streets.
If you’re black, everywhere
If you’re brown, also everywhere
If you’re a woman, anywhere
If you are gay, at any time
Muslim or merely foreign-seeming
Now and now and now
Whoever you are
Hate’s bullets crave your flesh
Hate’s gunpowder grows hot at the thought of you.
Not in fantasy but in fierceness I practice
Stepping in front of you
I prepare to relinquish myself
The laundry undone the poem unwritten the story
And you practice the same
As we each hope to save the other
From the ravages of the status quo.
I know probably I won’t
In that moment
Shield you like I want to.
It’ll happen too fast or
I’ll freeze or hide or probably freeze
Fear will claim me
Shock will kick in
I won’t believe it’s happening.
I won’t believe even though I know
Haley Isleib, October 2nd 2017