the meaning of life

My life means nothing
to the world

White men still murder Black women
in church
even after sitting in their pews
Confederate flags still fly
at full mast
in the aftermath
Politicians still lie
with their black eyes
and gun powder lips
Dim-witted masses
still cheer wild and blind
for their Savior

They want me to think
my life means nothing
to the world
Their gnashing teeth savor
my beaten-down bones
and tired flesh
My fierce optimism and tender heart muscle
nourish the fiery acid
of their putrid bellies
like forsaken bodies
in concentration camp ovens

I will become poison in their bowels
refuse to break down
kick my way out the other end
intact and fortified
I will shake off their filth
like a muddied dog
The growing throng
of kind hands around me
will midwife my rebirth
the pushing out of this rotting membrane
of constriction and intimidation
I will continue to speak truth
now turned up louder
I have been forged in the crucible
of their patriarchal terror
their shortsighted self-serving

I am Bigger than that.
We are BIGGER than that.
They are a blip
on the radar screen of history
a burp
during a long banquet of progress
long view trajectory over time
of increasing freedom and equity
We are the future
we won’t live to see
it doesn’t matter because
to our children

I don’t know what happens when we die
no one does
those who profess this knowledge
accept a comforting deception
to stave off this uniquely human affliction
this recognition
we are mortal

if my life means nothing to the world
I will make it profoundly meaningful
to me
It will be a radiant statement
that NO I was not complicit
in our self-annihilation and
YES I was afraid but


I was not silent
and I did not lie

© S. Rinderle, 6/20/15

To Juror B37 in the Zimmerman Trial (on the anniversary)

To say you don’t see color
is not a compliment
it’s an insult

To say you don’t see race
doesn’t make you non-racist
it makes you the most dangerous kind –
an ignorant, well-meaning one
who lies

To say that you don’t see my color
implies you see it
something polite people ignore, like
I don’t see the huge scar on your face, or
I didn’t notice your deformed hand, or
I didn’t realize you were walking on prosthetics
I see you as fully human and capable
despite your obvious defects

You offer comfort
as if to relieve me of embarrassment
making me equal to superior you, but
you’re the one who’s uncomfortable
I don’t lack wholeness
you’re the one who’s empty

My color is not a scar
nor handicap
I don’t say so to convince myself
to overcome any odds but
because I really mean it
because you are the one who make it
a deforming handicap
by the way you treat me

Would you tell another woman
you didn’t notice her cute haircut or
fabulous pair of new shoes?
So why do you say you don’t see
my color?
Something I pride and celebrate?

The worst part is
you patronize me
trying to make me feel better for something
you imagine
which shows
you haven’t been listening

You haven’t been listening for 45 years

I haven’t been asking you not to see my color
I’ve been asking you to see ME
in all my black and brown glory
I’ve been asking you to see all my humanity
which is my color
and more

Stop trying to make me feel less
by telling me a lie
that you don’t see color ‘cuz

if that were true
you wouldn’t have to say
you don’t see color.

© S. Rinderle, 7/22/13