The wail begins in the diaphragm
passes lungs through throat
until it opens the mouth
It has no sound.
It thumps like a meat cleaver
and twists stomach lining bloody.
Its silence pierces flesh with
the velocity of bullets
the coarseness of a noose
the leathery grains of a whip
the clanging of chains
We wail until our chests empty,
plundered pyramid hearts
fall to the ground
We feel the tears before we hear our own voices.
We know this monster well
not from fables
not from fireside spook stories
not from myth or legend
it does not hail from hell
or Ferguson or Baltimore
or Charleston or Los Angeles
or Beavercreek or Sanford
or Staten Island or Baton Rouge
It is not new
It is a soundless wail
that escapes your lungs with
And it doesn’t stop
not at work
not at church
not during concerts or movies
We adjust to living while wailing
silently, lamentations cause arrhythmia.
Black folks having heart disease ain’t no coincidence.
We look to the floor to see our pyramid hearts looted.
There were always profit to take from our lifeblood.
Often we ask what a black life is worth.
How an auctioneer would answer?
I wonder if how we live trying to ignore the wailing
has changed how we are appraised.
How do we sleep through it?
How do we speak sentences without choking?
It leaves the throat anchored
coated in bone.
They say that space is a vacuum
where sound waves do not travel
America is a vacuum for black folks
we have often screamed
Who hears the sound?