Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Poets Respond to Bus Station Incident

Photo from snipview.com
After the conclusion of five days at  The Watering Hole 2014 Winter Poetry Retreat, my fellow poets and I encountered an incident at Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority on Sumter St. in Columbia, SC.

Many homeless people gather at this bus station for warmth and rest. One of the homeless appeared upset that he was asked to leave the station by several security officers for what we assumed was loitering. The conflict grew intense when two friends of the homeless black man individual attempted to calm him down. They mentioned to him that he had just left prison and did not want to go back.

Surprisingly, one of the security officers antagonized the homeless ex-con with shouts and threats. My friends and I felt this behavior was unbecoming of an officer whose job was to keep the peace.

The conflict subsided when the two friends pushed the angry black man all the way across the street although he still shouted back and forth with the security officer.

Photo from snipview.com
Ironically, in the social media age where news travels by the second, I neglected to take pictures or videos of the incident. We were shocked and in awe at what we saw developing before our eyes. I impressed upon my friends that this type of incident is what poets are for: to show conflict and struggle in everyday life and make it mean something to the masses, to fill in the gap between the 24-hour news cycle and the everyday battles that slip through the cracks because they do not have the appeal of mass media.

Each of us wrote a poem as our own interpretation of the incident. Both of my fellow poets' poems are below. My poem can be found in the upcoming March/April 2015 issue of Jasper, a Columbia, SC arts magazine.

Sumter St.
by Hakim Bellamy
Some plan on leaving
in an hour,
in four,
before dawn.

When day becomes inevitable,
and I feel like the last child.
Orphan of the soccer practice.
Black widow of the altar.
Pretending I didn't just turn this bench
into bedhead.

And the buses run
like clock     work.

While the cops stop
time   like don't move.

And I just
run in place.
While the cops be like


Because the sun
always comes around
like              too soon.

And the Black folk
just come and go
like              werk.

When you say
Go Home!
Do you mean Back?

Do you mean outside?

Because I haven't seen
my bed
in five to ten,
and this
is not what I had in mind.
This is not what I had

You, with your pillow fight gang
of mortgages and marriages,
bad attitudes, badges
and somewheres to belong.

I pretend I am here for
the sistas and the conversation.
You pretend you are here
to protect people like me
from people like me.

We ought to be celebrating.
As the slave ships pass me up
time and time again.

You only hate me
because Ive figured out
how to get off.

As the inaugural Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, NM (2012-2014), Hakim Bellamy is a national and regional Poetry Slam Champion and holds three consecutive collegiate poetry slam titles at the University of New Mexico. His poetry has been published in Albuquerque inner-city buses and various anthologies. Hakim completed his M.A. in Communications and Journalism Department at the University of New Mexico. He is the proud father of a 5 year-old miracle and is the Founding President of Beyond Poetry LLC. More at www.hakimbe.com 

upon leaving the watering hole
by Gabriel Ramirez

blk was yelling at Columbia transit station security 
after just finishing his two month long sentence. 
bulletproof was trying to get blk to calm down. 
security stood shoulder-to-shoulder; neon wall 
of arrogance. they began taunting come get 
this whoppin' boy & the yelling turned into charging &
security rested their hands on their firearms.
blk didn't care about their metals. 
bulletproof told blk they don't care about me
or you. blk became frustration, & pushed
bulletproof out his way then sister stopped
frustration & became heart. you can go to jail
if you touch them. to that frustration responded
i don't care to that heart responded i'm sure  
your kids will all the while bulletproof is talking
securities' blood dry palms off their statistic makers.
frustration near gone shouts i'm coming back for ya'll
Gabriel Ramirez is a 20-year-old writer, actor, poet, playwright, teaching artist & lover of all things love. Gabriel is the 2012 Knicks Poetry Slam Champion and a member of the 2012 Urban Word NYC slam team which placed 6th in the international Brave New Voices Festival. He has performed on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre, the United Nations, New York Live Arts, Lincoln Center, Apollo Theatre and other venues & universities around the nation. Gabriel has been featured on Upworthy.com and at a TEDx Youth Conference. Gabriel ranked 2nd in New York City in Youth Slam and won the 2013 National Youth Poetry Slam Championship in Boston.

No comments:

Post a Comment