What Matters
By Rushelle Frazier

If five people are shot outside a police station, does it make a sound?

Can you hear it over cries for justice
in the streets?

If a Black church is shot up or bombed in the South, is anyone surprised?
Does it make a sound?
A sound that matters?

Do all sounds matter?

How close does the explosion have to be
to a romantic destination?

How close the explosion to your home?

Do the victims have to look like someone you can identify with?
Do the victims have to look like someone you can relate to?

The frat boy in this bar
hears the same Wednesday headlines as I do.
His best thinking moves him to say aloud, “It’s just social darwinism.”

I pray to a god I don’t believe in,
and a few that I do,
that he chokes on something as small and dumb as he is.

Does all death matter?

All these smart kids, family name sullied posthumously
because they were innocent and therefore flight risk
someone felt need to take down or cage,
Overmonitor or tag-quick.
Contain the freedom local schools
could not silence, or smother, or recruit.

Anyone can see it’s just systemic.
Nothing natural about it.

Why do Black people gotta pay in advance and still get shortchanged?
Why do Black people have to pay with their life?

Be considered lucky if only browbeaten by police?

Maybe I should say it in another romance language.

Je suis Ferguson
Je suis Chattanooga
Je suis Worcester,
Communities of color

Overpoliced, underprotected, always suspected –
I refute your eye roll at the easy rhyme, I kept it in for folks in Middle America.

Being a white liberal in the Northeast is easy.
Mostly not risky.
Listening to NPR, you can still blame it all on the South.
The Midwest.
Anyone not educated here.

Where are you from? Where does your heart live?
Can you register the life in this chest?
Words issuing from this mouth?

What sounds do I need to make in order to matter?

Rushelle Frazier is a queer black feminist writer, permaculture educator, urban farmer, counselor, organizer and herbalist. She was a member of the 2015 Worcester Slam Team and is the current president of the Worcester County Poetry Association and coordinator of the Hot Spot at Nine Dot Poetry Series.