Posted by: theodorecosmosophia | August 9, 2011

As the streets of London burn…

As the streets of London burn, I cannot help but wonder if even the nuanced and balanced reflections on race and injustice miss the broader perspective: We are facing unprecedented global crises–economic, ecological…  In response, our leaders seem only to protect the elite.  Here is an excerpt from a poem I wrote during the Oakland riots–not exactly in their defense, but reflecting on them.

…and here in Oakland, California

A young man named Oscar Grant,

Unarmed and handcuffed

Executed on a train platform

And the streets of Oakland burn.

I see Rodney King

Defenseless and prone


As I watch the young man

—a boy, really, but a father, too—


I still can hear the soft Jamaican accent on the radio

On that firey night in 1991,

Dedicating a song of revolution

To Rodney King.

I hear too

Then as now,

How pointless it is to destroy property

In response to tragedy.

Unfortunate comparisons made

To blood spilt at the hands of police

To broken windows and burned cars.

I suppose there is truth in the critique of the rioters,

But I also know something greater:

I have seen Hell.

And it is neither dark nor aflame,

Nor do demons torture its inhabitants.

Hell is the moment when a human being loses the ability to lament life’s sorrows,

And to become enraged at injustice.

Those fires,

In L.A. as in Oakland and Soweto,

Are not Hell,

But humanity’s sad yearning to escape it.

January 2009, Oakland

From Handprints on the Womb



  1. Thank you, brother. There does seem to be unrest everywhere. It has followed us through the ages and seems to be the history of the human condition…the history of “civilization…

  2. Greetings . I try to feel your passion , an find a ? response .

    2011AD . In London England , the Mid East , and Afganistan

    in Africa , and North America , and the whole world over ,

    people cry out against the injustices . No one can accept the

    conditions , that our 21st century now provides to us . We are

    born onto a beautiful planet of plenty , yet the unity to protect

    our home , seems to continue to be beyond us . There’s a rhythm

    to living within the modern 21st century Space Age . May your poetry

    help others to find that .

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