HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2009 Nikki Giovanni
All right reserved.ISBN: 9780061726453
Blacksburg Under Siege: 21 August 2006
(for Carolyn Rude)
Not safe . . . not even all that nice . . . when you think about it . . . What mean fraternity boys do with their fists . . . and drunk fraternity boys do with their penises . . . barefoot boys do with guns . . . Whether it's a redneck screaming "nigger" . . . or a poet hollering "titties" . . . illegal and unkind behavior tells someone s/he doesn't belong . . . check it . . . check it out . . .
Not nice . . . No . . . And no reason to feel safe
A good day . . . someone pointed out . . . however . . . to be black . . . or a woman . . . and not be hunted . . . and not have to hold your head down . . . and not have to quiver . . . when you pass a man . . . police . . . or professional . . . yet still knowing . . . at any given moment . . . you are a target . . .
"They didn't move fast enough" . . . they cried . . . "They could have done more" . . . they demanded . . . "More to let us hold on to our illusions of safe . . . to let us hold on to our illusion of fair . . . to let us hold on to our illusions . . . illusions . . . illusions" . . . And whether it was a bullet flying or an animal cracker coming straight at you . . . it was an attack . . . And yes . . . maybe there could be faster motion . . . faster lockdown . . . faster dismissal . . . but hey there is the bigger picture . . . and after all he didn't mean it . . . his leg was sprained . . . he's so intelligent . . . so talented . . . so special . . . he didn't realize his heart was blind . . . he didn't understand he was causing pain . . . Bang! Bang . . . he sang . . . I shot you Down but I really didn't have a gun . . . and just because you're dead . . . doesn't mean I really did it . . .
I shot the deputy . . . hey hey . . . he sings . . . but I only pretended with the rest of you
And in the end he was very careful with himself . . . Sure not to be treated the way he treated McFarland and Sutphin . . . Avoiding the knockout blow or killer smile he dealt the man who came when he called "Help" . . . Silencing his victims with death for their goodwill and sense of decency . . . Or their pity for him . . . Do all the sane and sober things to protect yourself, Monster . . . so that you can plead Innocent By Reason of Not Paying Close Attention . . . Threaten us that you can make Blacksburg not ever be the same again . . .
But we will be the same . . . willful ignorance will overpower indignation every time . . .
That still does not make us nice . . . and it sure doesn't make us safe