Wednesday, July 27, 2016

“Your Luck Is About To Change”

By Susan Elizabeth Howe

(A fortune cookie)

Ominous inscrutable Chinese news
to get just before Christmas,
considering my reasonable health,
marriage spicy as moo-goo-gai-pan,
career running like a not-too-old Chevrolet.
Not bad, considering what can go wrong:
the bony finger of Uncle Sam
might point out my husband,
my own national guard,
and set him in Afghanistan;
my boss could take a personal interest;
the pain in my left knee could spread to my right.
Still, as the old year tips into the new,
I insist on the infant hope, gooing and kicking
his legs in the air. I won't give in
to the dark, the sub-zero weather, the fog,
or even the neighbors' Nativity.
Their four-year-old has arranged
his whole legion of dinosaurs
so they, too, worship the child,
joining the cow and sheep. Or else,
ultimate mortals, they've come to eat
ox and camel, Mary and Joseph,
then savor the newborn babe.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

White Boy Privilege

By Royce Mann

Dear women, I am sorry.
Dear black people, I am sorry.
Dear Asian Americans, dear Native
Americans, dear immigrants who come
here seeking a better life, I am sorry.

Dear everyone who isn’t a middle or
upper-class white boy, I am sorry.

I have started life at the
top of the ladder, while you were born on the first rung.

I say now that I would change places
 with you in an instant, but if given the
opportunity, would I?

Probably not. Because to be honest,
being privileged is awesome.

I’m not saying that you and me on
different rungs of the ladder is how I want it to stay,
I’m not saying any part of me for one moment has even liked it that way,

I’m just saying, I fucking love being
privileged and I’m not ready to give that away.

I love it, because I can say “fucking”
and not one of you is attributing that to
the fact that everyone of my skin color
has a dirty mouth.

I love it, because I don’t have to spend
an hour every morning putting on
makeup to meet other people’s standards.

I love it, because I can worry about
what kind of food is on my plate,
instead of whether or not there will be food on my plate.

I love it, because when I see a police officer,
I see someone who’s on my side.

To be honest, I’m scared of what it would be like
if I wasn’t on the top rung.

If the tables were turned, and I couldn’t
have my white boy privilege safety blankie to protect me.

If I lived a life by what I lack, not what I have,
 if I lived a life in which when I failed,
the world would say ‘Told you so.’

If I lived the life that you live.

When I was born, I had a success story
already written for me. You, you were
 given a pen and no paper.

I’ve always felt that that’s unfair,
but I’ve never dared to speak up because I’ve been too scared.

Well, now I realize that there’s enough blankie to be shared.

Everyone should have the privileges
that I have. In fact, they should be rights instead.

Everyone’s stories should be written,
o all they have to do is get it read.
Enough said.

No, not enough said.

It is embarrassing that we still live in a world
in which we judge another person’s character
by the size of their paycheck, the color of their skin,
or the type of chromosomes they have.

It is embarrassing that we tell our kids
that it is not their personality,
but instead those same chromosomes that get to dictate
 what color clothes they wear, and how short they cut their hair.

But most of all, it is embarrassing that we deny this,
that we claim to live in an equal country in an equal world.

We say that women can vote? Well,
guess what? They can run a country,
own a company, and throw a nasty curveball as well.
We just don’t give them the chance to.

I know it wasn’t us 8th grade white boys
who created this system, but we profit from it every day.
We don’t notice these privileges though, because
they don’t come in the form of things we gain,
but rather the lack of injustices that we endure.

Because of my gender, I can watch any sport on TV
and feel like that could be me one day.

Because of my race, I can eat in a fancy restaurant
without the wait staff expecting me to steal the silverware.

Thanks to my parents’ salary, I go to a school
 that brings my dreams closer instead of pushing them away.

Dear white boys, I’m not sorry.
I don’t care if you think that feminists are taking over the world,
or that Black Lives Matter has gotten a little too strong,
because that’s bullshit.

I get that change can be scary, but equality shouldn’t be.
Hey white boys, it’s time to act like a woman.
To be strong and make a difference. It’s time to let go of that fear.
It’s time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge.

Monday, July 11, 2016


By Audre Lorde

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.”

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Revolver

By Carl Sandburg

Here is a revolver.
It has an amazing language all its own.
It delivers unmistakable ultimatums.
It is the last word.
A simple, little human forefinger can tell a terrible story with it.
Hunger, fear, revenge, robbery hide behind it.
It is the claw of the jungle made quick and powerful.
It is the club of the savage turned to magnificent precision.
It is more rapid than any judge or court of law.
It is less subtle and treacherous than any one lawyer or ten.

When it has spoken, the case can not be appealed to the supreme court, nor any mandamus nor any injunction nor any stay of execution in and interfere with the original purpose.

And nothing in human philosophy persists more strangely than the old belief that God is always on the side of those who have the most revolvers.

This poem was unpublished until a professor at the University of Illinois  Urbana-Champaign found it, and the Chicago Tribune published it in 2013.  

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Never Shall I Forget

By Ellie Wiesel 

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.
Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.
Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith for ever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.
Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.
Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live
as long as God Himself.