Thursday Poem: Untitled

From ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me

‘Let’s Talk Peace’: Illustration by Sadia Tariq, LHR. Circa April 2022

Late one night in my office
one mile from home, I stared

out my window in an insomniac haze.
Remember how crazed I used to be?

Turns out eight hours of sleep
is the only vision quest I need.

Anyhow, as I stared out the window,
I saw a transformer sizzle

And spark down the block.
Accidental and gorgeous fireworks.

Then that transformer boomed
and turned the neighborhood

Into one large and powerless room.
In five minutes, the closed supermarket

parking lot below me was crowded
with dozens of black teens and young

A sudden party! And the bass that shook
their car windows shook my office

Then three minutes after the party started,
six police cars pulled into the parking lot.

Oh, shit! Oh, shit! I wondered if somebody
was going to get shot! But the cops stayed

in their cars, content to just be reminders
of more dangerous possibilities,

while the black teens behaved like teens.
Twenty minutes later, the power came back.

I was surprised it had been fixed
so quickly. Soon enough, the black kids

vacated the lot. And the cops did too.
It was one of those city nights where

Bad things could have happened.
But it was good things that shook the air.

The music and car engines and laughter
singing only about love, not disaster.

by Sherman Alexie
You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me
Little Brown, 2017