Long Hot Summer: A Poet Speaks of Murder


By Dr. Herukhuti

 It is not easy to speak of murder. Summer heat catches the air I need to form the sounds of anguish and rage. In their place is a choking noise coming from the space where my throat should be.

 The news broke while I have been here in Black Mecca of the South, a tender location. Zionist campaign into Gaza kills Palestinians. Chokehold kills Black man. Before I arrived the news was similar-different. Corporation withholds water from poor people in Detroit.

 Music and magic require excellent timing. Keeping good time can be a matter of knowing when to bring things together—the drummer drumming the drum—or noticing when things are coming together—observing the confluence of events. In Atlanta for a gathering to discuss Black aesthetics, I think about the meaning embedded in the shape, color, tone, meter and flavor of these events occurring at the same relative moment.

 Murder is contagious. An amnesia spell cast about the memory of our umbilical connection to life, all life. It surrounds such memories in locked stasis. And we feel out of time at the scene of murder. Everyday words fail us so we attempt, unsuccessfully, to enter into the house of the unspoken—the known unknown. Hoping to find something that is not there, we want something to comfort us. Murder becomes the warm spot in our bed.

 Long hot summers were the legends of my childhood. Riots, suspensions of the social contract between citizen and State, wet my appetite for learning about how people sick and tired of being sick and tired could register a no/stop/getoffmyfuckingneck that could be recognized. In April 1992, I walked the streets of South Central Los Angeles and felt the air freeze to the point of being unrecognizable as buildings burned red, yellow and blue hot.

 I do not want to know what it feels like to kill someone’s mother. I do not. Killing someone’s child. No. Killing someone’s neighborhood. No. Killing someone’s Wednesday night tutor. No. Killing someone’s teammate for the game at 6pm. No. Killing someone’s ride to the supermarket next week. No. Killing someone’s goodnight kiss. No. Not by bullet. Not by missile strike. Not by excessive force. Not by water deprivation. Not by anything. I do not want to know what it feels like to kill you.

 But the rage is there and murder is contagious. In the space where my heart should be, anguish and rage form two chambers of a half-hearted belief that Fanon was wrong about the violence of decolonization. I have lived through so many examples of state violence, corporate violence, sometimes cold and emotionless violence that comes from the machinery of oppression and other times searing, scolding violence that comes from a perpetrator close enough to smell the stench of hate on them.

 My only solace is nestled within the words spoken from one revolutionary to another—aluta continua (the struggle continues).

 

 

1 Comment

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