The difference between poetry and rhetoric
 is being ready to kill
 instead of your children.
 I am trapped on a desert of raw gunshot wounds
 and a dead child dragging his shattered black
 face off the edge of my sleep
 blood from his punctured cheeks and shoulders
 is the only liquid for miles
 and my stomach
 churns at the imagined taste while
 my mouth splits into dry lips
 without loyalty or reason
 thirsting for the wetness of his blood
 as it sinks into the whiteness
 of the desert where I am lost
 without imagery or magic
 trying to make power out of hatred and destruction
 trying to heal my dying son with kisses
 only the sun will bleach his bones quicker.
 A policeman who shot down a ten year old in Queens
 stood over the boy with his cop shoes in childish blood
 and a voice said “Die you little motherfucker” and
 there are tapes to prove it. At his trial
 this policeman said in his own defense
 “I didn’t notice the size nor nothing else
 only the color”. And
 there are tapes to prove that, too.
 Today that 37 year old white man
 with 13 years of police forcing
 was set free
 by eleven white men who said they were satisfied
 justice had been done
 and one Black Woman who said
 “They convinced me” meaning
 they had dragged her 4’10” black Woman’s frame
 over the hot coals
 of four centuries of white male approval
 until she let go
 the first real power she ever had
 and lined her own womb with cement
 to make a graveyard for our children.
 I have not been able to touch the destruction
 within me.
 But unless I learn to use
 the difference between poetry and rhetoric
 my power too will run corrupt as poisonous mold
 or lie limp and useless as an unconnected wire
 and one day I will take my teenaged plug
 and connect it to the nearest socket
 raping an 85 year old white woman
 who is somebody’s mother
 and as I beat her senseless and set a torch to her bed
 a greek chorus will be singing in 3/4 time
 “Poor thing. She never hurt a soul. What beasts they are.”