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Hold the Floor

 

The place changes:
school,
movie theater,
church,
club,
but a man with a gun
and hate
is always merciless.

Safe spaces,
except the stage directions
now read: run, hide,
fight.

We tell our children to
shelter in place,
while others
are counting the bullets.

We tell our children
I’m sorry this happened
to you—the world
shouldn’t be like this.

And yet.
And yet.
And yet.

We are stuck
finding new names
for grief, because
we’ve used the others
so often
they’ve gone numb,
limp,
paler than the promise
that tomorrow
will be better.

If a woman
on the train is wearing a hijab,
leave her alone.
Remember that American
means a thousand
different things,
and one of them is Muslim.

We are
a nation of immigrants,
standing on land
that was someone else’s first,
so unless you are Native
American, sit down.
We are a nation
of Protestants and Quakers,
we are a Nation
of every god and no god,
we are a nation
of mistakes,
but the only un-repairable one
is when we stop trying
to do better.

Forget our children
for a moment,
and remember that
we, too, deserve better.
Further still,
we are the ones
capable of change.

A man from Connecticut
stood on the Senate floor,
asking for change, demanding it,
tallying the hours
against the lives lost
to bullets. Hold the floor,
and he did. But more than that,
he held the heart of a nation
and offered
hope
for a basic, common good.

Senator,
thank you. To all those
who joined him, thank you.
To the rest of you:
be on the right side
of history. Do not join
the Trail of Tears,
the Japanese Internment Camps,
the No Blacks Allowed.

Don’t apologize.
Don’t try to tourniquet
the wound
with words.
Don’t cover the dead
with dirt and walk
away—look at their faces.
Say their names.
Read their stories.

Keep your thoughts and prayers.
Instead,
do the right thing.

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Categories: poem, poems, Poetry, Uncategorized
  1. June 19, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    I may disagree with some of your politics, but I love the beauty of your words.

    I know from previous comments I’ve made you like to know what speaks to a person in your poetry. Well, as an historian, the phrase “right side of history” has always irked me since it simply reflects the moral judgment of the present day. There’s know real way to ensure what history will think of any particular movement.

    However, despite our differences, I can 100% support this idea:

    Remember that American
    means a thousand
    different things,
    and one of them is Muslim.

    We are
    a nation of immigrants,
    standing on land
    that was someone else’s first,
    so unless you are Native
    American, sit down.
    We are a nation
    of Protestants and Quakers,
    we are a Nation
    of every god and no god,
    we are a nation
    of mistakes,
    but the only un-repairable one
    is when we stop trying
    to do better.

    Something people of all politics and religions (or no religion) would do well to remember.

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