MORTAL MAN BY: BEN VOCK2
MORTAL MAN BY: BEN VOCK3
MORTAL MAN BY: BEN VOCK4
MORTAL MAN BY: BEN VOCK5
MORTAL MAN BY: BEN VOCK6
MORTAL MAN BY: BEN VOCK7
MORTAL MAN BY: BEN VOCK8
MORTAL MAN BY: BEN VOCK9
Ever since I was a kid
I’ve had this irrational fear of caterpillars.
The way they inched around with a swagger,
their creepy tufts of hair,
just their presence in a public space
made me nervous.
If a saw one inching as I walked down the sidewalk
I would cross the street in fear.
My friends tried to rationalize with me how silly it was
Worst comes to worst
they’re easy to squash.
Walk all over them,
squish them under foot.
Its just another caterpillar,
no one will miss it.
In a few weeks time they’ll be butterflies.
I’m nearly eighteen now,
almost off to college,
and I still have this childish fear nestled comfortably on the back of my neck.
I’ve been starting to wonder where I’ve learned this behavior
If it’s deeper.
If anyone else has the same fear
of things that have the potential to become so beautiful.
I’ve seen the news stories lately
Of Eric garner getting squashed in a choke hold;
Of bullets poking five holes in Walter Scott’s cocoon
as we all watch his beauty bleed out of them
looping on every news channel
Of inner city schools starved with food deserts and budget cuts
so their kids can’t even make their cocoons
so afraid to watch the black boy fly
Of treating black bodies
like bugs that needed exterminating
Black men women and children, stunted and murdered
because of the swagger in their walk;
because of their nappy hair;
because of our fear of them in public space.
Spending so much effort
to make butterflies ashamed of the color on their own wings.
Makes me realize I’ve crossed streets before in fear
for more reasons than just a caterpillar
That maybe this fear is generational
That the same fear that rests on back of my neck
rested in the hands of slave master’s whips.
That same fear rested in hands with
assuming that unarmed black men
like Trayvon Martin
like Michael brown
can’t be as innocent as butterflies
making excuses like
I dont know
I’m no mortal man
maybe it’s just another...
I’m nearly 18 now
almost off to college
out my own cocoon
I cant help but feel like maybe I haven't been a butterfly all this time
maybe I’ve been the moth
feasting off of other colorful linens to keep my wings strong
appropriating culture to keep me afloat
leaving holes in the fabric of our excuses for murder
Kendrick place a caterpillar in my palm
and for the first time
I didn’t feel the need to squash it
I let it sit there
as I watched my own wings emerge