The difference between poetry and rhetoric
is being ready to kill
instead of your children.

I am trapped on a desert of raw gunshot wounds
and a dead child dragging his shattered black
face off the edge of my sleep
blood from his punctured cheeks and shoulders
is the only liquid for miles
and my stomach
churns at the imagined taste while
my mouth splits into dry lips
without loyalty or reason
thirsting for the wetness of his blood
as it sinks into the whiteness
of the desert where I am lost
without imagery or magic
trying to make power out of hatred and destruction
trying to heal my dying son with kisses
only the sun will bleach his bones quicker.

A policeman who shot down a ten year old in Queens
stood over the boy with his cop shoes in childish blood
and a voice said “Die you little motherfucker” and
there are tapes to prove it. At his trial
this policeman said in his own defense
“I didn’t notice the size nor nothing else
only the color”. And
there are tapes to prove that, too.

Today that 37 year old white man
with 13 years of police forcing
was set free
by eleven white men who said they were satisfied
justice had been done
and one Black Woman who said
“They convinced me” meaning
they had dragged her 4’10” black Woman’s frame
over the hot coals
of four centuries of white male approval
until she let go
the first real power she ever had
and lined her own womb with cement
to make a graveyard for our children.

I have not been able to touch the destruction
within me.
But unless I learn to use
the difference between poetry and rhetoric
my power too will run corrupt as poisonous mold
or lie limp and useless as an unconnected wire
and one day I will take my teenaged plug
and connect it to the nearest socket
raping an 85 year old white woman
who is somebody’s mother
and as I beat her senseless and set a torch to her bed
a greek chorus will be singing in 3/4 time
“Poor thing. She never hurt a soul. What beasts they are.”

“Post-Shame” by Elizabeth Gross

from http://afteriwasdead.blogspot.com/

” There is certainly a need for self-examination and criticism on the left, but shame is a patriarchal means of control, so let’s skip it. For my resistance, showing up matters more than being right (showing up and showing up and showing up and showing up and showing up and showing up and showing up and showing up and showing up and showing up for whatever’s next). ”

read more here

Poems of Protest, Resistance, and Empowerment

from the Poetry Foundation:

Pithy and powerful, poetry is a popular art form at protests and rallies. From the civil rights and women’s liberation movements to Black Lives Matter, poetry is commanding enough to gather crowds in a city square and compact enough to demand attention on social media. Speaking truth to power remains a crucial role of the poet in the face of political and media rhetoric designed to obscure, manipulate, or worse. The selection of poems below call out and talk back to the inhumane forces that threaten from above. They expose grim truths, raise consciousness, and build united fronts. Some insist, as Langston Hughes writes, “That all these walls oppression builds / Will have to go!” Others seek ways to actively “make peace,” as Denise Levertov implores, suggesting that “each act of living” might cultivate collective resistance. All rail against complacency and demonstrate why poetry is necessary and sought after in moments of political crisis.

I look at the world” by Langston Hughes

Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou

Making Peace” by Denise Levertov

Poem” by Muriel Rukeyser

read more here


The Guest House

by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Survival Strategy for Fascism with a Clown Face

by Jennifer Huxta

Learn to see the fang

in that big American smile, the fear

behind those eyes.

Do not be blinded by those extra-white teeth.

See the tiny lens

in that polka dot tie. Yes,

you are being watched.

Notice his collar spike when you don’t agree, though he presents a unified front.

The time has come, dear,

to sharpen up your Dead Eye.

Learn to recognize it from Agents of Power.

This may be your only act of resistance.

Let’s be clear.

Any act, no matter how small,

is critical now.

When other people look at you with hate, their hair

turning orange, they say,

What’s the problem? Don’t exaggerate.

Wait and see.

You must find your people and hold them, hard.

No, you’re not crazy.

Clowns are fucking scary,

scarier than shopping mall Santas.

You do Not have to sit on his knee.


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