When the Shattered Awake: Mourning Songs, July 2016

by Michelle Myers

For all the people we have lost to police brutality and for their families

we meet again
at the stony edge
of blood-red waters.
every time you speak
ghosts fly
from your ragged breath

a father, gone
a child’s heartbroken sobs
your clenched hands give you away

i thought we walked together
but my naked feet
leave no imprint on the earth.
my heart trips
on the wasted echo of asking

even while pain prowls around our hearts
let us dare
to treat each other’s bodies
like sacred prayer

not knowing what to do
i give you my hands.
please forgive me
if they are useless.
but this morning
they held each of my children’s faces
as i kissed their cheeks.
so it is a matter of love.

                                        Photo by Veronika Lukasova For the Washington Post 


Michelle Myers is an award-winning spoken word poet, community activist, and educator. As a founding member of Yellow Rage, an Asian American female spoken word poetry group, Michelle has appeared on HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry, in the first live Def Poetry Jam show presented at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado, and in the Def Poetry Jam College Tour. She is also a two-time Emmy nominated TV show host for Community College of Philadelphia’s spoken word poetry competition show Drop the Mic. As a solo performance artist, Michelle has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Transformation Award and Art and Change Grant by the Leeway Foundation and a Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship Honorable Mention by The Loft Literary Center. Michelle has also been featured at hundreds of college campuses as well as at many distinguished venues around the country, including the Painted Bride Arts Center, the Bowery Poetry Club, the Asian American Writers Workshop, the Asian Arts Initiative, the Kennedy Center, the Loft Literary Center, the Sierra Arts Foundation, the Japanese American National Museum, and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. A professional spoken word poet for 16 years, Michelle draws from her personal experiences as a biracial Korean American woman to write poetry that challenges mainstream misconceptions of Asianness and explores the intersections of race, culture, gender, community, and self.