The World as I see it, The World as it is.

By Naomi McPeters


Witness

Those who don’t understand trauma, don’t understand rage

Show me the world so I can find my way back to myself

The Devil at your feet

Or the Devil on your knees

Either one will destroy you.

What is this about? This is about believing the devil’s lies because truth is too hard. This is about wanting something Jesus himself rejected. This is about wanting justice without love. Peace without sacrifice. No justice, no peace. Living life on our knees

It’s about worshipping at the devil’s feet while being too proud to bend the neck towards heaven or hell.

It is about serving a king in a foreign land.

It is about the aching emptiness of life.

It is about finding your way home.

It is about seeing, and silence. Transparency.

It is about realizing all you ever wanted to do was find yourself, when all along you thought you had been looking for those who left you.

We look for the lost pieces of ourselves.

No one else.

It is about trauma, and rage, and ghosts.

This is about the power of having a witness.

We saw.

We saw.

We saw.

 

The stranger across the aisle of the train has no idea that I am watching him.

That I see the flutter of inner activity as the conductor passes by.

Annoyance and fear that he didn’t do the right thing

And frustration when he realizes this of himself.

Constantly waiting for a change.

Lips moving slightly as he reads.

My muse always tells me the same thing:

Write what you see.

Write what you see.

Did it not pause to consider that some of us may be blind?

 

I see a skyline.

Tinted in brown because my eyes are afraid to be seen.

I see an endless wasteland, a jagged skyline, lips parted like angels, the things we leave behind.

The tears come like fury, soaking the devil at my feet

The trees rush by with a whisper

I travel the world to find me.

 

Who I was before they left me.

Who I can be without their ghosts in my dreams.

 

I see rails to infinity

A lonely house between the tracks

Piles of wood lying abandoned, captive, and free

A city beneath me, a memorial playground.

A memorial playground.

Abandoned warehouses and abandoned children

Biding their time, tears burning their eyes.

Waves of grief and regret for the child that was lost

Not knowing there was someone who loved them

In the midst of the nightmare they were living

Are there no safe spaces left for our children?

Who really knows the meaning of tears?

There are certain secrets that will kill you after too many years.

There is something about parting from them that has the touch of death upon it.

 

Rush hour traffic beside the stormy blue of the river

Each street looks the same as we pull into Newark.

Women easing their guilty consciences

We tried to help her…

What more does she want from me?

A stooped man climbing aboard to his last destination

I am staring through the world yet it doesn’t see me

How many times have my words become something other than what I meant them to be?

 

Skin colored shades covering souls on their knees worshipping kings we can’t see

Snow colored bones beneath gazes that have seen too many things

To my muse: the view out my window is clouded.

So start listening

 

Silence

I’ve put myself here, afraid to hear the screams that pierce my mind

A plane forever taking off, its wheels lifting to nowhere

How long can we all keep up this act of living?

 

I saw a man fall from the highest pinnacle in the universe

I saw a woman loving one who wasn’t her child

I saw a city burned black and blue, her waters flowing with crimson

Her hillsides mass graves of her unarmed children

I saw Dallas, Baton Rouge, Cleveland, Chicago, Falcon Heights and a small town called Ferguson.

I saw a list of stereotypes attributed to black men and women

And I saw myself in the midst of it,

Perpetuating the hatred and violence

Because of my love of the silence.

 

Listen to the Silence, my muse.

I hear a man begging to breathe.

I hear a nation blaming his lungs for rejecting non-existent oxygen,

Saying all lungs are significant when it is his that are screaming for air.

Until the last word that will ever be heard from this man is “breathe.”

Breathe.

I hear a woman livestreaming the death of one soon to be her husband

The terrified whimpers of her child

I watch the arms of a red-shirted man clutching the air for salvation

Outside a corner store in Louisiana where life is allowed only if convenient.

I hear a 14-year-old boy in 1955 Mississippi

His voice stripped away and his body thrown in the river

Open-faced casket.

The soil rejecting the blood of these bodies that are buried in it.

The blood rejecting the bodies that are sustaining it.

The bodies that are seen as black before they are seen as human.

 

I hear a crucified and forsaken son crying for his father,

His worshippers refusing to look at the spectacle

Because they know they will see on his face the sins of their fathers and children

Generations upon generations.

I don’t have to be whatever it is you fear of me.

If I must deny the parts of myself that tell me to ignore what my humanity can clearly see,

Well, I deny them.

 

I hear Oscar Ramirez collapsing on train tracks in Paramount

His blood soaking the ground which spits it back up to us

For even the earth can only take so much crimson.

I hear the cries of his mother who buried him.

I hear a little boy playing with a cap gun but this ain’t no Cowboys and Indians

This only ends one way: in two seconds with the bullets in his chest stripping the life from his body

You can hear the breath leave his lungs and escape into the soil

It seems that each one of them were all looking for it:

Oxygen.

There is silence because we are stealing their breath from them

I had to drown out my own voice just to hear them

By filling our history with silence atop too many words, we are misleading our children, the only hope for this nation.

And hope does not come by refusing remembrance,

But by breathing. And listening.