Virginia Tech Massacre


The unfathomable tragedy that unfolded in Blacksburg, Virgina is on everyone’s hearts, minds, and prayers.  Virginia Tech is the academic home of one of America’s best known poets, Nikki Giovanni, who is a professor of English.  Her poetry became special for me during my days in college because it is so raw and visceral.   She was able to wrap me up in the caress of her words. Some of her poems also convey warmth, tenderness, and caring.  

by Nikki Giovanni
(for Sally Sellers)       

Like a fading piece of cloth 
I am a failure       

No longer do I cover tables filled with food and laughter 
My seams are frayed my hems falling my strength no longer able 
To hold the hot and cold       

I wish for those first days 
When just woven I could keep water 
From seeping through 
Repelled stains with the tightness of my weave 
Dazzled the sunlight with my 

I grow old though pleased with my memories 
The tasks I can no longer complete 
Are balanced by the love of the tasks gone past       

I offer no apology only 
this plea:        

When I am frayed and strained and drizzle at the end 
Please someone cut a square and put me in a quilt 
That I might keep some child warm       

And some old person with no one else to talk to 
Will hear my whispers       

And cuddle 

15 thoughts on “Virginia Tech Massacre

  1. rikyrah

    Thank you for this, SB.

    I think of those families, getting that call, and I break down in tears. I know what it’s like to go to college in that small town atmosphere.

    I listened to some of the survivors, and it’s just surreal.

    Tonight, let’s say a prayer in whatever religion you practice. For the souls lost, and for the families left behind to grieve.

  2. As horrific as this is, just think about this being a typical everyday thing…and then you have what it’s like to live in Iraq these days.

  3. rikyrah

    My heart literally aches for those families who got that call today. I went to a small town college. Though it was in the middle of nowhere, and there were limitations, there was something so beautiful and simple about it too. I thought it was how everybody should go to school. There was a calm, peaceful, friendly atmosphere around campus and in the college town. It was a surreal existence, and the outside world was just that -outside.

    That innocence was lost for those who died today, and for the community left behind, which will never be the same again.

    PS-One of the first ones to die, the RA, was a Brother named Ryan Clarke. He was smart – he was doing a triple major. He had musical skills -he was in the marching band. Handsome Brother. I know his mother’s heart is broken tonight. She thought she had him on the right track…and now, he’s gone.

    RIP all fallen souls.

  4. Denise

    My neice is a vibrant college freshman (at another institution) and this tragedy hit me especially hard. Words cannot express my sorrow and sympathies for the families and friends left behind.

    Good point, Ernesto. This scale of violence is a way of life for the people in many parts of the world.

  5. Rick

    I would imagine Brother Ryan rushed to the scene – just doing his job as an RA – to try to figure out what was going on in the dorm where shots had been fired. If that is indeed the case, it raises a larger question about how RAs (at ALL college campuses) should get involved when violence erupts near them. at a minimum, all college campuses need to at least revisit their procedures to see if RA safety is adequately taken into account. RAs already give up many a friday and saturday night to make sure the dorms are relatively orderly while others party. they should not have to give up their lives. this is just one of the many many many questions that colleges will have to visit re: protecting all the students on their campuses.

    This is so tragic and sorrowful. my heart goes out to the entire VT community.

  6. NMP

    Thanks, SB! I hope I remember this poem, this tragedy, and the memory of every child whose life has been cut short by violence when I dare think to utter EVER AGAIN, “I can only worry about my child.”

  7. dblhelix

    it raises a larger question about how RAs (at ALL college campuses) should get involved when violence erupts near them

    I found myself getting really PO’d yesterday about the underlying attitudes in this situation. Irrespective of the actual facts that will come out in the wash, this was reported yesterday as starting as a “domestic dispute.”

    All day long I heard about how America will have a conversation about guns, how the suspect might be Asian (he is), and so on. By evening, folks were raising the question of should the univ have been under lockdown after the initial incident.

    Reality is that at an affluent white school, domestic violence is not discussed (it doesn’t happen here). The RA’s training should have been to call the police and stay out of the conflict, but he probably didn’t get “that kind of training.”

    If an armed gunman had robbed a bank, killing two people, and then fled armed and on foot, you’d best believe that there would be a sweep of surrounding buildings — and he’d be described as “armed & dangerous.” Apparently, here folks thought it was over and done with after the morning incidents because domestic violence just doesn’t rank up there with armed siezure of property.

    I’ve been to Blacksburg, and some of the surrounding areas have seen better days (unless things have changed in the last decade). I could not help but think that to local police, domestic violence is no big deal. It begins and ends with a female victim and perhaps an innocent bystander, and that is that.

    The details as the investigation continues may reveal a different set of facts & circumstances — but yesterday, I could not help but feel disgusted that everything but domestic violence was at the forefront of discussion.

  8. dblhelix

    I’m reading an article right now at about how Korean students on campus are leaving in fear of retaliation:

    Racist screeds have cropped up quickly among right-wing commentators and on the Internet, including the idea that Korean males are excessively prone to violent jealous rages.


    At my univ, a woman was shot in a parking lot by her ex-boyfriend. She lived; he shot himself on the spot before doing any more damage.

    About six houses away from me, there’s a woman who is being stalked by her ex. He hangs out right at the edge of her property. Police/courts can’t/won’t do anything. A policeman has told her informally to buy a gun, and to make sure he “falls inside” if he tries to enter.

    Any police officer will tell you that the one call they really, really hate responding to is domestic violence because of the propensity for the situation to spiral out-of-control. They have a protocol for it, including sending out two officers, male & female. This is the type of training an RA at an exclusive school is unlikely to receive.

    Today I’ve read all of this stuff — a copy of the shooter’s writings is online, the feds plan to release a copy of the background check they did on him for his green card, he bought his gun at a shop in Roanoke, etc, etc — everything but a discussion of how the system routinely fails victims of domestic violence. Had he not gone on his afternoon spree, we wouldn’t be hearing about this, because as long as the target is one person, usually female, it’s considered “normal.” It’s not like we were treated to the scribblings of the man who set his ex on fire.

    Sorry to rant, but it’s really bothering me.

  9. Cliff

    This Sista’ gave a powerful speech today, it is amazing how the spirit of the audience lifted once she was done. True sista’ power. VT students are truly blessed to have a poet of this magnitude. Good lookin’ “SB”.

  10. rikyrah

    It was Professor Giovanni that was the professor that requested the shooter be removed from her writing class, or she’d quit. The more we find out, it’s just wild.

    Maybe things have changed since I was school, but I thought stalking was an offense that could result in explusion.

    I definitely thought that doing arson to your dorm room was.

  11. Cliff

    Look for the bottom line

    First I would like to state that I am deeply sympathetic towards the victims of the VT Massacre, and extend my deepest condolences. No family should have to go through what they went through.

    Don’t think that you are all of a sudden off their hook of being their number one enemy. Just because this was a major, tragic incident was performed at Virginia Tech University by a Korean named Cho Seung-Hui; don’t think for one instance, think that any Korean, Korean-Americans, or Asians in general will receive any backlash from American society. This isolated incident will somehow be used as an excuse to increase their ever-growing effort to continue to destroy the black man and woman, in their educational, political, and socio-economic system. Don’t think that we are not going to have to suffer, and go through more trials and tribulations because of this incident. Prime example, after September 11, 2001, the majority of black people thought that Arabs would replace them as being the recipient of the highest rate of racism in American society. To prove us a wrong the employment rate of Arabs within corporations increased. The influx of Arab immigrants from eastern countries increased. The employment rate of black people decreased. They increased their levels of police brutality against black youth within the inner city. They increased the incarceration rate of black men between the ages of 18-25. They purchased BET and increased the financing of high level ignorance and psychological warfare. Then came Hurricane Katrina, and I would say that we are considered animals, but animals are treated better within this society, rescue situation or not. By test let us see if we are still considered the number one enemy. Which race of people has the highest amount of their populace in the prisons and penitentiaries across the country of America? Which race of people has the most governmental agents within the supposed radical organizations to prevent unity, connectivity, and self-sufficiency? Any time major incidents happen in this society, they use the incident as an excuse to kill another black man (physically, morally, spiritually, or economically). Or they will incite a rivalry or war with us and another race. We are responsible for the false thought in the mind of the American society, because we are the only people who are satisfied with being a slave. We have caused them to think that “no matter you do to them, kill them, rape their women, destroy their economy, cause them to fight and kill each other, they will continue to bow to us, because we are white, and the supposed mediators of the war, when we are the ones who actually initiated it”. Therefore we as black people are responsible for styling this false thought in the mind of American society, having them think that this same tactic will work for any other race, including within the countries across world. I any major event I will always know what the bottom line in the American society is.

    Here you go Rick,

    Revelations 3:8 “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name”.

    Corinthians 16:9 “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversities”.

    Pledge to Self: I have to stay elevated with God, continuously pray, only fear God and not my enemies, respect myself and my queen, not be hypocritical with my actions, and unite the black family. Signed: Cliff

  12. I posted this incredible video of Nikki’s powerful words on my blog, and I would hope EVERYONE will take 3 minutes out of their day to watch it…to appreciate what it reminds us all about life…and the glimpse the ensuing outpouring of “Hokie” pride shows us of how resilient that community can be. This video, along with its haunting music, is truly one of the most powerful things I’ve seen.

  13. Nikki Lover

    ALI G’S ENTIRE INTERVIEW WITH NIKKI G (this interview, like both Nikki G, wannabe poet, and Tupac, rap star, small-time criminal, and wannabe gansta, is a big pretense, although this particular pretense poses no danger)

    ALI G -Booyakasha, chek i’ out. I is here wif my main man, Nikki G, my bro from Staines. How is you become poet? NIKKI G- We’re communicators, it’s in our blood. ALI G: Blood, West Side. Now sis, you, I mean, sorry you is my bro now, you is get some edumacation. You went to America, right? NIKKI G: I went to Fisk. ALI G: Tell me about how you is expelled for crack… NIKKI G: It wasn’t for smoking crack. I started at Fisk in 1960, was soon expelled, and later returned and graduated in 1968. I did enroll and quickly drop out of two graduate schools after that but I did complete that one degree, my bachelor’s degree. ALI G: Wha’eve. You is still my main man. Now you has Tupac Shukar tattoo, right? Can I see that? NIKKI G: Yes, I have said I would rather be with the street thugs than with the ones who complain about them. ALI G: Now is you believe Tupac’s criminal record make him a better rap artist? NIKKI G: Well, I don’t know about that, but… ALI G: I like that poem you wrote about nigger can you kill, can you stab a jew, can you draw blood, can you kill a honkie. Ain’t that a rap! NIKKI G: You’re talking about my poem “The True Import Of Present Dialogue, Black vs. Negro.” I wrote that a long time ago. ALI G: But can’t you make a rap out of that? You is get the whole crowd to stand up at Virginia Tech with that one. NIKKI G: No, that was my new poem We Are Virginia Tech. ALI G: Wha’eve. That was my one an’ only main man, Nikki G, my big bro and big time poet, big shout out for Nikki G from VT.

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