It was a spiritual experience.
On a cold night in a crowded concert hall,
Something holy blasted through the speakers,
And burst into the room,
And danced into my collar bones.
In that sea of strangers I was home.
Together we wrote poems on the ceiling with our fingertips,
Thinking as one,
Singing as one,
Pulsing and convulsing as one,
In that moment we were not just one species,
We were one organism – one being, together,
Hearts beating, together,
Feeling the music tickle like a feather,
Then beat down like rain,
Til it exploded like fireworks.
They say it sounded like fireworks
In Orlando, Manchester, Las Vegas
When holy places were violated,
When temples built to the gods of musical unity were desecrated,
When worshipers of melody were struck down as they celebrated.
Is this the world we’re living in?
That moment when you realize that your skin
Is such a thin barrier between you
And those who never learned how to speak
Without taking the voices of others away –
How could we not be afraid?
How could we not want to stay
In our individual, bulletproof bubbles of safety,
Not making a sound?
When fatal fireworks resound around the globe,
How could we not be stunned to silence?
But when we’re quiet, the sounds of violence grow louder by comparison.
Think of all the dissonance we’re carrying
In our collective short term memory,
Replaying every gunshot –
Every screaming, screeching truck,
Every newscast, news that your politicians
Are still stuck in the dark ages,
That there were more outrageous tweets sent at two in the morning,
Disjointed jabber jumbled into one constant, grating hiss –
Life’s soundtrack shouldn’t sound like this.
So take your sadness,
Take your fear – take that last drop of calm that you hold so dear –
Take all of it, don’t swallow it,
You’ve been holding onto it for far too long, now.
Let it breathe –
It’s time to turn it into song now,
Strong, now, together.
This world needs music more than ever.
So make some.
Taste the vibrations.
Flourish from their nourishment.
If music be the food of love, play on and on and honestly,
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able
To fully let go into the flow anymore,
Knowing that people have waged war on it.
Mourn for this.
But then, sing your sorrow
Into something glorious, transforming it –
Feel it beat down like rain.
Joy is not the absence of pain,
But the willingness to sing anyway.
CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO HEAR GRACE PERFORM THIS POEM AT THE COLONIAL THEATER FOR A “FOUR FREEDOMS” EVENT, JANUARY 20, 2018.
GRACE ROSSMAN is a 22-year-old spoken word poet. Since graduating from Bard College at Simon’s Rock in 2016, Grace has taught spoken word poetry workshops in middle schools, high schools, colleges, and community centers. She has participated in – and won! – spoken word poetry competitions on both coasts. Her passion is helping young people to strengthen their voices through creative writing and performance.