Predictable Love

Hurting people line the streets tonight,

much like any night across America,

many years,

so many lives lost,

waiting to be heard,

always

a slamming door,

the same is ever preset

yet people tonight are saying

this time is different,

this ‘is the season’ says the reverend,

Al Sharpton stirs the world

acknowledges his verbosity

in getting his point across,

says he doesn’t mind,

(LIFT YOUR KNEE OFF OUR NECK)

has a lot to say,

and tonight we listened,

we all listen

George Floyd

George Floyd

George Floy …

wait a minute we must

say his whole name,

always and forever,

forgotten in the wind,

a night breeze

a full moon

watching over us all

wherever we stand

is the simple truth,

watching over us

George Floyd



Rest In Peace

© Thom Amundsen 6/2020

What Happened in America?

In the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department – more specifically an individual in the police force, rhetoric is being tossed around with ignorance and thoughtful dialogue. The unfortunate nature of protest has turned ugly after the sun goes down across the country slowly burying the original narrative – the death of a black man under the blatant force of a white police officer.

When does the abuse stop, or when does the courage to speak of the need for reform begin? How do we keep a momentum necessary to pursue the ideals of social justice long after the dust settles? I’m already worried. The instituted curfews and the greater presence of police, national guard, state patrol is quite evident and their job has occurred in a swift fashion. But when the streets clear of an angry, frustrated, oppressed population in our city and across the nation, what happens next? Who wins, who loses? The adage that I’ve grown up with my entire life is that POC will continue to be the forgotten population, the discriminated presence, the victims of a systemic flaw in our society.

Every day people stand with each other on Lake street participating in the clean up. Society is standing with one another rather than excluding themselves or segregating their lives because of lethal differences with one another. This appears to be an optimistic gesture of people coming together as one, but it needs to last beyond the final dustpan carrying the soot of loss to the city dump.

Conversations have to begin and they have to be maintained to become a stronger precedent than simply patting ourselves on the back and saying we participated, and now let’s get on the lake with our boat and go fishing – go ahead but keep the conversation happening.

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around how to write about this since the day George Floyd lost his life, and our horizon and the narrative has changed so dramatically over the course of a week. At first I would have suggested that the violence and looting were indicative of years of oppression, and to a degree I still support that thinking. But the uglier violence has not only buried part of the ideal of protesting the scrutiny against Blacks, it has also given people an opportunity to not concern themselves about the oppression of the Black community.

The one piece that I have heard throughout social media is the need for White people to start listening rather than continually verbalizing their angst. Allow yourselves to realize you may very well be experiencing anxiety and confusion, but rather than speak what you believe a powerful diatribe of the problem, instead, take a moment and listen. We live in a society that scrutinizes people’s ability to listen rather than speak. We live in a society that is bent on believing they need to be heard and known to be saying the right thing. The problem is we don’t.

We have no idea how the Black experience is in contrast to our own White privilege. That’s where it begins. “In a contrary movement, the modern world transforms the person who listens into an inferior human being” (Robert Cardinal Sarah, The Power of Silence). We need to allow people to listen. We need to suggest people listen. I’m writing what I believe in this essay and I could criticize myself with the hypocrisy of what I am saying in light of what I suggest, in that I just need to shut up and listen.

Our society has an opportunity in respect to the tragedy of George Floyd losing his life in a violent matter. We have seen it time and time again, there is no disputing that the horrific nature of George Floyd’s death is another in a long string of incomprehensible treatment of people of color. The action itself continues the systemic nature of a broken society, and this week’s protests were an inevitable reality that needed to happen and needs to be the catalyst towards strong conversations ahead.

We need to allow ourselves to be further educated than believing the myths we live.


© Thom Amundsen 6/2020

 

Listening To The Trains

I was listening to the rain outside,

a steady rhythm of a soft spring shower

the whistle of a train nearby,

reminded me of a man I love so dear.

 

I have watched him grow his entire life

a boy to a young man, such happens overnight

I see pictures and memories and I want to cry

for when might I tell him how grateful am I.

 

I’d like to remind him of all the moments he believed

even when I was a puddle of self agony and grieved.

I want him to know that quite honestly every night

while the whistle of the train plays the rains so light.

 

I love him, I’m so proud I may call him my son.


© Thom Amundsen 5/2020

for Alex

A Week Later

I wonder about perception,

how well it matches up inside,

the image we carry of ourselves,

the identity screaming always for balance

against the odds,

despite our own misgivings.

 

Last week I was high,

a natural phenomena

that took me places,

I didn’t have to anticipate,

just lived inside

this possibility.

 

This morning I stared out the window

barely able to move,

I wanted to question whether I should

with the many voices

clamoring in the back of mind,

yes, well, in any rate, you could.

 

I did,

here now begins a day,

a bit overcast,

accentuating a sort of morose

atmosphere

to balance the mood.

 

Sometimes I wonder

to myself

where this all began.

I know I shared it with you

one time,

so many peaks and valleys ago.


© Thom Amundsen 5/2020