Poetry of Provocation and Witness from Split This Rock: Poem # 4

NORMAL 

for Shara McCallum
 
walk long enough
with a pebble in your shoe
and walking with a pebble becomes
normal
 
you no longer notice
the discomfort             the limp is just
another thing to live with
pain just another fact of life
 
until someone you haven’t seen for a time
asks     Why are you limping
and you remember     
Oh yes, that’s right –
I have a pebble in my shoe
 
and then what do you do
take it out        leave it in because
you are used to its dull and constant ache
do not want to learn how to walk properly again
 
live long enough
with war
and it becomes
normal
 
men and women you don’t know –
someone else’s children –
fly off the edges of the map
to places you were never taught existed
 
photos of the dead close out
nightly news programs            a familiar tag-
line as the anchor signs off
until tomorrow
 
images of troops march across
a strange topography   the sound of guns
going off in places so distant
you hardly notice        one barely hears a noise         
 
until someone says
We’ve been at war my entire adult life
and you remember     
Oh, yes, that’s right –
there IS a war still going on
 
And then what do you do?
 
 
 – Reginald Harris
     
 Used by permission.

Poetry in the Branches Coordinator for Poets House in New York City, Reginald Harris was a Finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and the ForeWord Book of the Year for 10 Tongues: Poems (2001). A Pushcart Prize Nominee and recipient of Individual Artist Awards for both poetry and fiction from the Maryland State Arts Council, his work has appeared in numerous journalsanthologies, and other publications. Contributor toLGBTQ America Today: An Encyclopedia (2008), he is currently pretending to work on two manuscripts.

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