Friday, June 26, 2009

Honest Moments

I wrote this several months ago in response to my discomfort with myself. I need a moment of honesty - I thank those who have been honest with me in reading the poem and in many other moments of my life.

The boys leaning against
the wall seem familiar with
the place. Cops swarming "Move off
the corner! No loitering here!"

The memory of my students' stories...
"The I-pod was right there. I could have lifted it off
the white man so easily!" and
the only colors I see are black and white and
the blue of the policemen's uniforms and
the blue men make me mad glad all in one breath because
the fear is rising up past
the hatred of abusive authority and
the racism rises above
the solidarity and
the confusion reigns supreme.

The questions in my head are too many and
the answers keep coming from
the eleven o'clock news and
the education of a little white girl and
the absence of another voice

The manifestations of oppression validate
the ideology of
the dominant group so well I can't see past
the rhetoric and
the lies. I only hear
the voices of my friends and family
the assurance that
the world IS as it seems, as we believe it to be and that
the "we" DOES include everyone

The problem is I know just enough to know there is another story
the story that some would rather not hear
the story I must find so I can understand
the truth in
the lives of
the boys standing against
the wall so familiar with
the place.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Choosing Human-ness

(I am going through and finishing old posts, this one was started months ago and is simply a reminder of something I think we all know, and the image, well, I agree with that message as well)

I was having one of those afternoons today when nothing seemed to be going right. I showed up in the wrong place for the thing I needed to do, got lost going to the other place, didn't have the right stuff, blah blah blah. I am sure we have all had those moments - I was hot, sweaty (I was biking this whole time) and tired of the backpack that seemed to have grown twenty pounds heavier during the whole experience. And then a person treated me in a less than human way...I knew it wasn't personal as he had treated the woman in front of me in a similar way, but still it jarred me. The next human interaction I had (other than between me and drivers of cars) also felt less than human...and my initial response was to retreat, be less than human to others myself and simply stop interacting as much as possible.

And I thought about people who receive less than human treatment every day, due to the color of their skin, their class, their ability, their gender or sexual orientation. First I thought about how awful that must be, but then I realized that many of these people manage to remain human, and treat others as humans despite of, or in defiance of how they are treated.

The retreat always feels safer, more protected. When faced with an awkward situation, it almost always feels better to be aloof, or disdainful, or just plain ignore a human. And when we are hurt, or down in any way it also feels good to retreat into ourselves, assume the weight of the world, and either martyr ourselves or others. I know all of this because it is my usual response. I hope that some day I can find the strength or the inspiration, or whatever to maintain my human-ness in defiance of all that is not human.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

No Words

sometimes there are no words
or is it too many
the flood of anguish
the pain that goes beyond
anything that could possibly
be captured in the boxes of
words we hold in our minds

for me there is no depth
to the word peace - it is
white doves and olive branches
nothing so strong as to bring
a revolution that somehow holds
justice in its sweeping arms
peace is long flowing skirts
and flowery meadows, it is
Kum bay Yah and hand holding
circles - smiles hugs and tears not
food clothing dignity, not freedom
not healthcare or security

and speaking of security we need
to revolutionize that meaning too -
no border patrols and airport checks
but guaranteed food, shelter and
medicine - the security that comes
with equality
and needs no guns or night
vision binoculars wire
tapping our private unjust lives

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Base Ten

Here is another reflection - I have been trying to write in verse lately (as you can see it is only moderately successful). This is a little late in being posted as I have been without internet.

Base 10

Because most of us are born
with 5 fingers on each of 2
And some of us die with the
We measure things in 1s, 10s, 100s
and 1000s

For the rich and famous of the
US of A, 1 can keep us riveted to
24 hour news coverage for days

For inner city poor it takes
100s to draw even a
20 second news blurb

This morning on the radio
The woman dragged out
One T-h-o-u-s-a-n-d
Palestinians killed
Finally, it was news worthy
Finally it was a crisis

Imagine if we were born
with only 4 fingers on each
Imagine if the mathematicians
hadn't counted their thumbs.
It would have taken 488 fewer
deaths to catch our attention.
Although maybe then, the standards
would be shifted again.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Recently I went to a huge protest in Washington DC about the violence happening in the Gaza Strip. This was my reflection:

I got caught up in
the joy on young girls
faces and for a moment
their smiles
made me feel hope
marching some how together
I did not feel alone

We were marching
and there was hope in
our numbers fierce
independence in our chants
an independence not based
in individual desire
but in a demand
for change and I wonder
if any of my comrads
feel the same disappointment
now looking at the news
and seeing nothing.

We were thousands
And we were stopping
traffic and screaming words
We carried our signs in the cold
pouring rain
and yet I know
no one will see us
no one will hear us

We were thousands
of invisible souls marching
through the capitol
of the most powerful of nations

And part of me wonders
if this
is just a small part
of what it feels like
to be