Last Night I Shed Tears (poem)

progression

I’m actually very late in posting this one.

The weekend of the Zimmerman verdict, I was in the midst of the run of my performance series. After a wonderful opening night, word of the verdict trickled down to the artists in the theater. As can be expected, a wide array of emotions were being expressed around the room.

I pretty much kept my composure until I got home. Then the overarching ramifications of such a decision and what it means/could mean to myself as a black man in America and black people in general struck me full force. I wept.

For about fifteen minutes I wept.

As an artist that sometimes touches on political topics in his creative work, I knew I had to do something. Especially since there was still one more performance left the next day.

Usually, however, my political responses tend to be a bit…shall we say…heavy-handed in their passionate execution. This time I wanted to say something meaningful once, then let it go before I got eaten alive by anger and resentment.

The next night, I took the stage and read this:

 

LAST NIGHT I SHED TEARS

(by Charles Tyson, Jr.)

Last night I shed tears

Last night I shed tears

 for the last tiny remaining

shred of my innocence

 that I didn’t even know I had left

that was taken from me.

 

Last night I shed tears for the fact that

No matter my accomplishments

My contributions

My sacrifices and my successes

 

I can still be seen as a they

A them

One of those.

 

Part of that monolithic menace

Coming to take ours from us

 

Last night I shed tears

because to many

My life simply has no value

If I’m not singing and dancing

 

Last night I shed tears

For the little black girls who can’t wear their hair natural in school

Because it’s distracting

 

Last night I shed tears

For the young black boys that don’t have the luxury of the freedom to just be

 

Last night I shed tears

For the fact that some would rather I

Didn’t voice my opinion

That I wouldn’t speak so loud

That I shut up and get my ass back to Africa

If I can’t learn my place.

 

Well for now I am here

I do have a voice

I will raise it loud

Shit, I’m from West Philadelphia

I know my damned place!

 

 

And I’m going to get angry

And I won’t get over it any time soon.

 

If I do I’ll forget

Then you’ll forget

Then we’ll forget

Never forget

 

Last night I shed tears

Last night I shed tears

Today I have only my wounded hope

I have no more tears left

Last night I shed tears

Today I start fresh

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