Words Fail Me

Words Fail Me

When I look at
the box to check that
asks me if I’m white
(like Apartheid, right?)
Words fail me

When I hear a slur
thrown at his/her
clothing on the street
(too butch or too sweet)
Words fail me

Then I remember what
my ancestry is, and cut
straight to the chase –
Whether it’s race

or “homoqueerdyke” –
Riley sure didn’t like
it, she took them on
Must have gone til dawn

Whatever the abuse
There is no excuse
I find my mind; suddenly
My words do not fail me

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

The great Brian Miller at dverse Poets asked for the theme “when words fail you.”

It’s one thing to be stopped in my tracks by utter stupidity, insensitivity, and hate speech. It’s another to let it pass. I will always calmly try to talk them in off the Limbaugh Lemming Ledge… even though we have “concealed carry” in this state. It’s worth the risk, if only to stand for justice and work for peace. And it always ends up with a moment of standoff and an apology. (Caveat: I don’t take on the clearly unmedicated who could do me real harm, because they are speaking out of their own illnesses.) Peace, Amy

18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. pandamoniumcat
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 01:07:08

    Oh yes that’s a right time to have your mind keyed on to the fact…stand up against abuse in all forms. Say it out loud! I like that!


  2. http://vivinfrance.wordpress.com
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 02:30:22

    If “concealed carry” is anything to do with weapons, I’m glad I’m here, not there. It’s a crazy society that permits any of the implications of abuse in your poem. Poems are the best weapon!


  3. Susan
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 02:34:21

    Love this stand-up and tell them poem, but your comment is a little scary. The people I know that are for guns tell me that showing one can get someone to back off fast. It might. And it might not. Careful out there.


  4. Roger Green
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 02:50:38

    Viv in France: “concealed carry” means the right to own a concealed gun. As opposed to some clowns, apparently in Texas, and possibly elsewhere, who like brandish their rifles and semiautomatic weapons in restaurants and department stores.
    Of course, Amy, now we record race to see how well (or poorly) equality is proceeding..


  5. kaykuala
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 04:53:49

    We are lost for words in such situations. One cannot be faulted though surprisingly enough others nonchalantly take them without batting an eyelid. In all fairness there is an element of wanting to exploit the situation for selfish reasons. They stand to gain. It is painful for those on the receiving end though! Great thoughts Amelita!



  6. Sabra Bowers
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 05:17:32

    I would have liked your Riley, I think. Enjoyed your poem, I know.


  7. brian miller
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 06:47:59

    it is disgusting…and we are no better off at times it seems in the last 40 years….we placate acceptance….but there are plenty that are so full of hate…and esp from those that should be preaching love…..yeah, i get a little riled up…and no loss for words…smiles.


  8. Teresa
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 09:26:24

    It amazes me how little we’ve progressed in accepting people and fighting ignorance.


  9. Sherry Blue Sky
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 11:37:04

    Love the poem, love the talking them off the Limbaugh Lemming Ledge – brilliant! I love Riley – taking them on – her mother’s daughter. Yay for both of you!


  10. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 15:22:34

    Love how when we finally understand our responsibility we can find those words.. Very well expressed Amy


  11. georgeplace2013
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 19:41:26

    That everyone could find their voice as well… very nice Amy


  12. markwindham
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 20:32:10

    The race thing does continue to bother. We are not supposed to care, not supposed to notice, but it is thrust before us in very news story, every form, every talk show… Sharp words from the pencil as always


  13. dreamingthruthetwilight
    Jun 08, 2014 @ 04:42:13

    Bravo to you. May your words never fail you.


  14. Akila
    Jun 09, 2014 @ 03:34:43

    I am glad that words did not fail you.


  15. Buddah Moskowitz
    Jun 09, 2014 @ 16:06:03

    Great writing here – it flows and it gently burns. Excellent – Mosk


  16. C.C.
    Jun 09, 2014 @ 20:12:16

    Excellent take on the prompt. Meaningful words.


  17. Sharp Little Pencil
    Jun 10, 2014 @ 02:15:05

    THANKS TO ALL FOR YOUR COMMENTS. I HAVE VISITED YOU ALL IN LIEU OF RESPONDING… but there were some great observations. Wisconsin is also the site of that awful attack by two 12-year-olds on one of their friends… and that was in suburbia. May have to write about it. I worry for the upcoming Gay Pride Parade (Madison’s is in August), because of the anger about the recent passing of Marriage Equality in our state. The skinheads are mustering arms. Pray for us.


  18. grapeling
    Jun 12, 2014 @ 00:26:39

    even with quavering voices… ~


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