Reaction to a spirited debate regarding politics and poetry.


Whatever you think about me
I am human
I have feelings
Feelings that have been stomped on
or caressed
depending on the person and circumstance

I am an American from Europe
whose white skin
and heterosexuality
and youth in the suburbs
gave me advantages
over those who weren’t dealt the same cards
or even given cards from the same deck

I am a woman who still doesn’t have
the same Constitutional rights as males
but who can vote and speak her mind
who doesn’t have to wear a burqa
who doesn’t risk being stoned to death
because she dared leave the house without her husband

I am not threatened by TV personalities
who admit they don’t believe half their hate speech
(they are just doing what their sponsors tell them)
who have no degrees in journalism
(one a college dropout, the other a deejay)
They don’t speak from their hearts
but from their wallets
and they freely admit it
Sure, it’s mercenary and incites violence
But it’s a living

Powers of such as these are limited
only by the willingness of their listeners
to be sheep, to blame the least in our society
for their current woes
(this time it’s Mexicans and gays; last time it was Jews;
before that, Armenians, before that…)

When Jesus was surrounded by “unclean” street urchins
he told the disciples not to chase them away
but to let them come closer
He didn’t want them deported to another town
He didn’t call them unclean or unworthy
He didn’t charge copays when healing the poor
He acted out of love

He also raised a ruckus
that resonates to this very day
for to love one’s enemies is an almost impossible task
and to love one’s neighbor,
harder still when he brags he ran them over,
but they were “just Mexicans”

Jesus was hung because of words
and all his words were loving
If our poetic world was only Whitman, Dickenson, Dickens
bereft of Ginsburg, Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks
how poor this world would be

Provocation is healthy
What makes one’s blood coarse faster
makes one’s mind more nimble
Sure, I get provoked
But I stand by my right as an artist
to call out powerful hatemongers

Plato banned poets because
he claimed they drew their inspiration
from imaginary worlds

Those of us who draw from the real world
do so in the name of justice
of compassion for the Other
regardless of religion or color
regardless of the consequences
in spite of whatever comes

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil