I don't want to write poetry about a white racist man killing nine black people in a historically black church during bible study in South Carolina, United States 2015. So, this is not a poem.
A poem would find something beautiful about people working to get closer to God at the moment that a killer, like Saul, exacted his crime against them when God was most pleased with them, when God smiled and welcomed them home. So, this is not a poem.
There would be verses in a poem that made the reader ponder a while, smile sometimes, cry sometimes, introduced the reader to herself. Is she a church member getting closer to God, finally to glory? Is she a murderer, a hater, like Saul? Is she pretending to be dead so that she doesn't die? Is she reading the news about a white man killing nine people at church during bible study while she cries? Is she white? Is she black? Is she white sometimes, but today she is definitely not black? I digress. This isn't writing that causes one to ponder. So, this is not a poem.
A poem would do what it could to be the subject for a moment. The writer of the words would wish to be in the room when a man sat down next to a pastor and then stood up, proud like Saul, and killed nine people before driving home. I can't do that--- imagine what it would be like to see my family shot down in church. So, this is not a poem.
Metaphor is often found in poetry to help the reader see what otherwise could not be easily seen. I could write something that refers to the scene, compare the bloody thing to human soup spilled over the sanctuary floor or perhaps refer to the steeple splitting screams, but I don’t want to imagine what it was like to be there and I care about you enough not to. So, this is not a poem.
A poem sometimes rhymes. A poet would take the time to find a rhyme if the poem was that kind, but there is nothing that even a poet could do to spin this woe of hatred and murder when one man could have prayed, but, instead, he left nine people
murdered. So, this is not a poem.
There is a chance that the Unites States could get together, like we do sometimes, to solve a big problem—this time racism, but this is an election campaigning year and everyone cares about the election of the people despite the people who vote or no longer can vote because one man, a representative of the confederate, premeditated mass murder of nine black people at church reducing their lives to lines and candidate quotes—There is no poetry in that. So, this is not a poem.
If a poet could manage to stop crying and mourning, she’d write about the poetic justice of one God taking an act of hatred and bloody racism and turning it into the only instance in the history of mankind when the whole world, regardless of the entire list of what separates us from each other in our humanity, prayed together. Even those who doubt the existence of God, just prayed, just in case. A poem would discuss the impossible thing that somehow became possible. This doesn’t do that—discuss the impossible becoming possible. So, this is not a poem.