Missouri violence leads MN poet to map ‘black rage’

Chaun Webster, co-owner of Ancestry Books in Minneapolis, has been wrestling with the shooting of Michael Brown, the ongoing upheaval in Ferguson, Missouri, and the history of violence on black and brown people in the United States.

Here’s the result of his struggle.


towards a cartography of Black Rage

i’ve been trying to draw a map this morning,
to chart the distance between
Black rage                                 and                                                dead Black bodies.
so far i’ve been outlining our ontology-
tracing round the landmass of Renisha, Aiyana, Eric, Michael
the names become too many, the landmass too large.
i’ve been attempting to chart the scale of this rage,
to know its dimensions. i close my eyes to do a field measurement,
feel the acid building in my mouth.


fists tighten


wonder where this might take me now-
i give in to the logic of the   JUJU

                                                                       as in: collective memory

embrace the time machine of my body
and hold counsel with
George Jackson Nat Turner Touissant Louverture


hands still tightening
feel like root workers hands – executing their magic now.
i continue to tracing my steps
and the distance between
these bodies                 and         this rage
closer than i thought it was-
momentarily open my eyes now


find myself in a ghost story
i mean america
no i mean a ghost story.
america is a ghost story
and its tucked just beneath our skin
boiling in our blood.
no need to map the distance between
this rage and this body


all we need do is momentarily open our eyes
embrace the witness in our blood
hold a stubborn course,
the dead, the living and the unborn
circling round as we pronounce
the circumference, and the texture, and the depth
of the world we are no longer content to live without.

©Chaun Webster August 21, 2014

Reprinted with the permission of the author.