Lorde, Audre. The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde. New York, NY: Norton, 1997: 215-216.
1The difference between poetry and rhetoric
2is being ready to kill
4instead of your children.
5I am trapped on a desert of raw gunshot wounds
6and a dead child dragging his shattered black
7face off the edge of my sleep
8blood from his punctured cheeks and shoulders
9is the only liquid for miles
10and my stomach
11churns at the imagined taste while
12my mouth splits into dry lips
13without loyalty or reason
14thirsting for the wetness of his blood
15as it sinks into the whiteness
16of the desert where I am lost
17without imagery or magic
18trying to make power out of hatred and destruction
19trying to heal my dying son with kisses
20only the sun will bleach his bones quicker.
21A policeman who shot down a ten year old in Queens
22stood over the boy with his cop shoes in childish blood
23and a voice said "Die you little motherfucker" and
24there are tapes to prove it. At his trial
25this policeman said in his own defense
26"I didn't notice the size nor nothing else
27only the color". And
28there are tapes to prove that, too.
29Today that 37 year old white man
30with 13 years of police forcing
31was set free
32by eleven white men who said they were satisfied
33justice had been done
34and one Black Woman who said
35"They convinced me" meaning
36they had dragged her 4'10" Black Woman's frame
37over the hot coals
38of four centuries of white male approval
39until she let go
40the first real power she ever had
41and lined her own womb with cement
42to make a graveyard for our children.
43I have not been able to touch the destruction
45But unless I learn to use
46the difference between poetry and rhetoric
47my power too will run corrupt as poisonous mold
48or lie limp and useless as an unconnected wire
49and one day I will take my teenaged plug
50and connect it to the nearest socket
51raping an 85 year old white woman
52who is somebody's mother
53and as I beat her senseless and set a torch to her bed
54a greek chorus will be singing in 3/4 time
55"Poor thing. She never hurt a soul. What beasts they are."
Publication Start Year
Between Our Selves.
RPO poem Editors
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh