When I say, “Black lives matter,”
speaking always and only for myself,
this is what I mean…

That Black people –

as we live and breathe,
think and feel,
hope and despair,
sing and pray,
intend and act,
succeed and fail,
do right and do wrong,
joy and sorrow,
whilst loving our darkness, longing for daylight’s freedom;
always and in all ways of human being and doing
on Earth and under Heaven –


When I say, “Black lives matter,”
and you,
with the sudden swiftness
(or is it the swift suddenness? or does the difference matter?)
of a reactionary reply, declare, “All lives matter” –

though I think I understand what you mean that your “all” includes me;
giving you the benefit of the doubt,
which you, by birth, possess the privilege of my having to do for you
(though you may not be conscious of it, I am) –

what I feel is that you
have negated my self-assertion of value
(though you may not be conscious of it, I am).

And that you have subsumed my color as one of many that,
when combined,
make white
(though you may not be conscious of it, I am).

Or worse, for me,
that you do not see my color
proudly claim yourself color-blind,
which, for me, means that you do not, cannot see me
(though you may not be conscious of it, I am).

Would that countless
institutions that
persons who,
for generations past and now,
disenfranchise me and mine
become and remain conscious,
so, knowing and confessing and repenting what they do;
but, still, they don’t,
which is something about which you needn’t wonder,
much less worry about,
but I do.

And one other thing…

I am a Christian theist.
In this, I believe that all of us were made in God’s image.
Therefore, when I say, “Black lives matter,” I am not saying,
“White (or brown or yellow or red or blue or any another color) doesn’t matter.”

What I am saying is that unless and until –
when I say, “Black lives matter” –
you say, “Yes, Black lives do,”
enough for you to do something, anything differently,
then I’ll keep saying it ‘til the cows come home.

Though as they have not yet
(though you may not conscious of it, I am),
I wonder, worry that they won’t. Ever.

And that matters to me.

© 2020 PRA

6 thoughts on “Consciousness

  1. Dear Paul,

    These words are clear and straightforward. They ring with honesty and are devoid of rancor, but they sound a mightily justified weary resolve. They challenge my will and my energy to learn how to live an “Amen” to them every day and, by so learning, to help answer resistance to their truth from any quarter.

    I love this poem more than just about anything I’ve ever read of your writing. It’s going to live with me for a long, long time, and it will inform my days from here on out.

    Thank you for this gift of truth.

    Much love,



  2. Of course this made my cry…but not until I printed it out and put it up in my room. Only one word needs to be said.


    Oh, and that I love you for writing this.


  3. My dearest Karen and Loretta, for once, I say/write, simply, only: Thank you and, again, thank you.



    1. Paul,
      I’m not sure whether Karen is aware of this or not, BUT in the presence of ALL of your readers I want to take a moment to acknowledge your birthday today!!! You are a man of many words, who ALWAYS finds the right words for the right times and in the right spaces! Thank you for speaking so many who may feel they don’t have a voice and for allowing us to cry with you and for bringing us comfort like so few can! So on this day I just want to applaud you for the person you are, and for all that you have done and will continue to do in the world!! I hope you take time off today with Pontheolla and celebrate today with great food and even better wine!!!



  4. Dear Paul,

    Happy Birthday! (Thank you, Loretta, for clueing me in!) I wish you a day of peace and blessing, time and space for thinking, meditating, writing, and praying, being with Pontheolla and others you love most, and for doing the things that fulfill your heart and soul.

    And yes, like Loretta, I wish you good food and wine.

    I know already you will be spending the day surrounded by beauty. But may you feel your own beauty and worth today, dearest Paul, the strength and grace you share so readily with others, your gift of words and poetry, your heart for healing. May the coming year be a year of transformation that I know you seek in our country and in our world.

    Much love,



    1. My Dearest Loretta and Karen,

      I thank you for your birthday greetings and blessings. I appreciate your care more than I can say/write. For, typically, celebration is not the first thing on my mind…

      To wit, I share some words with which I replied to friends’ birthday tidings earlier this morning: “Thank you, truly, for your kind thoughtfulness (and your thoughtful kindness [I just love it when a sentiment or expression works either way!]). I appreciate, even more, with your words, turning my conscious attention to the celebration of life. For, as I said to Pontheolla earlier this morning, long have I considered the/my natal day anniversary only another day-in-the-life. Especially, perhaps (or, rather, doubtless) in times like these, which I’ve described variously, but one way in particular as ‘an age of viral pandemic and racial pandemonium.’ I say ‘age,’ for I believe the scourge of the novel coronavirus pandemic (considering the precursors of SARS and MERS) long hath been in the offing. Moreover, concerning race, I employ the term ‘age,’ for, in my view, when have we – at least, those with human consciousness – not been aware and alert to the disparities and indignities parceled out by persons and systems based on skin color?…So, in this time, this moment, this age, celebration is not the first thing on my mind and heart. Hence, again, I thank you for your words, for you remind me to take time to take stock of my life within the movement of this world on this our ‘fragile earth…island home;’ the focus upon which I render so much of my attention.”

      Again, my beloved Loretta and Karen, I thank you, too.

      Love, always and in all ways,


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