Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Reading a poem on Racism - Black People & White People Were Said - Kerry Johannsen



I have been reading poems from Tony Hoagland's anthology of "Twenty Little Poems That Could Save America."  In the following poem, there is some sort of a hopelessness about racism: We hope that racism will go away, and we keep hoping it still doesn't.  Even when we try to spread that message to the next generation, racism doesn't go away.  We use oblique ways of measuring our success.  And we don't understand why it does not go away or why it stays.  The poem is by Kerry Johannsen, a poet from North Carolina that I couldn't find much information on.


Black People & White People Were Said
- Kerry Johannsen

to disappear if we looked at
each other too long
especially the young ones —
especially growing boys & girls
the length of a gaze was
watched sidewise
as a kingsnake
eyeing a copperheadwhile hands
of mothers and fathers gently
tugged their children close
white people & black people were said to
disappear ifbut nobody ever said it
loudnobody said it
at all& nobody ever
talked about where
the ones who didn’t listen
went