Poetry Corner

Archived Poets—Click on a name to see poems previously posted in this space:

Click here or on the name below of each poet for biographical notes and links to websites.

Dan La Botz

I See America Marching Again

I see America marching again,
As we have marched so often.

I see America marching again,
Led by the women, by our mothers, our sisters, our daughters,
In all the colors and shades of our country,
Which are all of the colors and shades of the world,
Inheritors of the Seneca Falls Declaration,
Great-grandaughters of the fight for suffrage,
Mothers and daughters of Women’s Liberation,
Knowing that the personal is political,
Angry, proud, unafraid declaring, in our many tongues,
“You will not touch us, you will not touch our rights.
“Listen and understand-we will fight back.”

I see America marching again,
Among the first come the immigrants
from Latin America, Asia, Africa, Europe
In all the colors and shades of our country,
Which are all of the colors and shades of the world,
Unintimidated, unbowed, proud, declaring in our many tongues,
“We offer you our labor, our culture, and our friendship, but understand:
We are here now, this is our country,
We are not going anywhere, and we will fight for our rights.”

I see America marching again,
People of all creeds: Christians, Jews, and Muslims,
Buddhists and Hindus, agnostics, and atheists,
All of them stepping forward to defend their beliefs
And their commitment to a country
Where everyone may believe what she wishes,
And where no creed is favored and no belief is forbidden,
Where no one is persecuted for their faith or their lack of it.
They march as an assertion of their rights:
“Do not dare to desecrate that temple,
Do not dare to touch that woman’s hijab.”

I see America marching again,
Marching under the rainbow banner,
Marching in pride: lesbian and gay,
Bisexual and transgender,
As they have marched to end “don’t ask, don’t tell,”
As they marched for marriage equality,
As they march every year in a thousand American cities and towns
To remind us that they are our
Parents, our siblings, our children and grandchildren,
And that they have the right to love who they will,
As do we all.

I see America marching again,
Our working people:
The garbage collectors, the dishwashers,
The bartenders and the servers,
The farmworkers who plant and harvest our food,
The home care workers who take care of the elderly and the infirm,
The computer programmers and the data-entry workers,
The bicycle messengers and those who deliver the pizza,
The teachers, the professors, and the adjuncts,
The healers: the nurses and the doctors,
The psychologists, and the social workers,
The factory workers, the warehouse workers, and the truck drivers,
The carpenters and the electricians,
The laborers and the stevedores,
The interpreters and the translators,
The artists and designers, the dancers and the singers, and the writers,
Workers all,
Proclaiming, “We must have jobs and we must have living wages,
We will defend our unions and our contracts.”
And they take up the old slogan,
“An injury to one is an injury to all.”
And the women workers take up the old song,
“Our days shall not be sweated from birth until life closes, Hearts starve as well as bodies, give us bread, but give us roses.”

I see America marching again,
Black Americans, so often the leaders of our fights,
Against slavery, against Jim Crow,
Against racism, against police violence,
The leaders of our fights
For justice, for fairness, for democracy, for equality.
The Black churches, the Black communities,
The Black women and men organizing at the grassroots,
They march to remind us we still fight for civil rights,
To remind us that we still struggle for Black power,
To remind us that that Black Lives Matter,
And that Black Liberation means the liberation of all.
And today once again we sing with them:
“Tell old Pharoah, Let My People Go!”

I see America marching again,
All of those from Latin America,
The Mexicans whose land was taken in the Mexican-American War—
Who never crossed the line, but rather the line crossed them—
And they became American citizens by force,
yet never allowed to be fully Americans.
The Puerto Ricans, whose island passed from Spain to the United States,
Becoming citizens by decree, but never fully citizens.
And all of the other Latin Americans,
The harvest of the American empire,
That took their natural resources,
Exploited their labor and invaded their markets,
That deposed and imposed governments,
And sent in the Marines to restore order,
Until there was so much order that one could
Not make a living or speak one’s mind,
So that they followed the money,
And came here to build communities,
To established their churches, create labor unions,
Crying, “Sí se puede.”,
Enriching us in so many ways,
Though they were often impoverished.
And they have joined us here,
And they too are marching again.

I see American marching again,
As we have marched before,
All of us from everywhere now marching,
For our Mother Earth’s in danger.
The American Indians often the first to cry out,
The scientists too and the environmentalists,
As the ice caps melt, the coral dies,
The fish disappear, and a thousand species are no more.
So now we march, now all together,
For Pachamama, for Mother Earth,
Against carbon fuel, global warming, and climate change,
And not just against climate change,
but for system change,
to change the system that could destroy us all.

I see America marching again,
As we have marched so often,
As we have demonstrated so often,
As we have protested so often,
As we have gone to jail so often,
To build the labor unions,
To fight for equal rights for
To stop militarism and to end wars,
As we have marched so often against a government
Of the rich, of the corporations, and of the military,
Against a string of imperial presidents,
Scoundrels and fools, immoral and evil.

So we march again on January 20
To make America great for once,
To make it what it might be:
Democratic, egalitarian, just, and fair,
A national community
In a world at peace.
We march and know it won’t be the last march,
And marching is just the beginning.

(Thanks and apologies to Walt Whitman.)

América Marchando Otra Vez

Veo América marchando otra vez
Veo a América marchando otra vez,
Como hemos marchado tantas veces.
Veo a América marchando otra vez,
Liderados por las mujeres, por nuestras madres, nuestras hermanas, nuestras hijas,
En todos los colores y matices de nuestro país,
Que son todos los colores y matices del mundo,
Los herederos de la Declaración de Seneca Falls,
Las bisabuelas de la lucha por el sufragio,
Madres e hijas de la Liberación de la Mujer,
Sabiendo que lo personal es político,
Enojados, orgullosos, sin miedo declarando, en nuestras muchas lenguas,
“No nos tocarás, no tocarás nuestros derechos”.
“Escucha y entiende, vamos a luchar.”
Veo a América marchando otra vez,
Entre los primeros vienen los inmigrantes
De América Latina, Asia, África, Europa
En todos los colores y matices de nuestro país,
Que son todos los colores y matices del mundo,
Sin miedo, sin aliento, orgulloso, declarando en nuestras muchas lenguas,
“Les ofrecemos nuestro trabajo, nuestra cultura y nuestra amistad, pero entiende:
Estamos aquí ahora, este es nuestro país,
No vamos a ir a ninguna parte y lucharemos por nuestros derechos “.
Veo a América marchando otra vez,
Gente de todos los credos: cristianos, judíos y musulmanes,
Budistas e hindúes, agnósticos y ateos,
Todos ellos avanzando para defender sus creencias
Y su compromiso con un país
Donde todos puedan creer lo que ellos quieran,
Y donde ningún credo sea favorecido y ninguna creencia sea prohibida,
Donde nadie sea perseguido por su fe o por su falta de ella.
Marchan como una afirmación de sus derechos:
“No osen profanar ese templo,
No te atrevas a tocar el hijab de esa mujer”.
Veo a América marchando otra vez,
Marchando bajo la bandera del arco iris,
Marchando con orgullo: lesbianas y gays,
Bisexual y transgénero,
Como han marchado hasta el final contra el “no preguntes, no digas,”
Como marcharon por la igualdad matrimonial,
Como marcharon cada año en mil ciudades y pueblos americanos
Para recordarnos que son nuestros
Padres, nuestros hermanos, nuestros hijos y nietos,
Y que tienen el derecho de amar a quien quieran,
Como todos nosotros.
Veo a América marchando otra vez,
Nuestros trabajadores:
Los recolectores de basura, los lavaplatos,
Los barman y los camareros,
Los trabajadores agrícolas que plantan y cosechan nuestros alimentos,
Los trabajadores de atención domiciliaria que cuidan de los ancianos y enfermos,
Los programadores de computadoras y los trabajadores de entrada de datos,
Los mensajeros de bicicleta y los que entregan la pizza,
Los maestros, los profesores y los adjuntos,
Los sanadores: las enfermeras y los médicos,
Los psicólogos y los trabajadores sociales,
Los trabajadores de la fábrica, los trabajadores de almacén y los conductores de camiones,
Los carpinteros y los electricistas,
Los trabajadores y los estibadores,
Los intérpretes y traductores,
Los artistas y diseñadores, los bailarines y los cantantes, y los escritores,
Todos los trabajadores,
Proclamando: “Debemos tener empleos y debemos tener salarios que alcancen para vivir,
Defenderemos nuestros sindicatos y nuestros covenios”.
Y levantan el viejo eslogan,
“Si tocan a uno tocan a todos.”
Y las obreras levantan la vieja canción,
“Nuestros días no serán sudados desde el nacimiento hasta que la vida se termine,
Los corazones mueren de hambre tanto como los cuerpos, dennos el pan, pero también dennos las rosas. ”
Veo a América marchando otra vez,
Los americanos negros, tan a menudo líderes de nuestras luchas,
Contra la esclavitud, contra Jim Crow,
Contra el racismo, contra la violencia policial,
Líderes de nuestras peleas
Por justicia, equidad, democracia, igualdad.
Las iglesias negras, las comunidades negras,
Las mujeres y los hombres negros que se organizan en la base,
Marchan para recordarnos que todavía luchamos por los derechos civiles,
Para recordarnos que todavía luchamos por el poder Negro,
Para recordarnos que “la vida de los negros importa”,
Y que la Liberación Negra significa la liberación de todos.
Y hoy una vez más cantamos con ellos:
“¡Dile al viejo Faraón, Deja que Mi Gente se Vaya!”
Veo a América marchando otra vez,
Todos los de América Latina,
Los mexicanos cuya tierra fue tomada en la Guerra Mexicano-Americana,
Quiénes nunca cruzaron la frontera, sino que más bien la frontera los cruzó a ellos,
Y se convirtieron en ciudadanos estadounidenses a la fuerza,
Pero nunca se les permitió ser completamente estadounidenses.
Los puertorriqueños, cuya isla pasó de España a los Estados Unidos,
Convertidos en ciudadanos por decreto, pero nunca plenamente ciudadanos.
Y todos los demás latinoamericanos,
La cosecha del imperio americano,
Que tomó sus recursos naturales,
Explotó su trabajo e invadió sus mercados,
Que depuso e impuso gobiernos,
Y envió a los Marines para restaurar el orden,
Hasta que hubo tanto orden que no había forma de ganarse la vida o decir lo que uno piensa.
Así que buscaron el dinero,
Y vinieron aquí para construir comunidades,
Para establecer sus iglesias, crear sindicatos,
Gritando, “Sí se puede.”,
Enriqueciéndonos de muchas maneras,
Aunque a menudo fueron empobrecidos.
Y se han unido a nosotros aquí,
Y ellos también están marchando de nuevo.
Veo a América marchando otra vez,
Como hemos marchado antes,
Todos nosotros de todas partes marchando ahora,
Porque nuestra Madre Tierra está en peligro.
Los indios americanos han sido a menudo los primeros en gritar,
Los científicos también y los ambientalistas,
A medida que las capas de hielo se derriten, el coral muere,
Los peces desaparecen, y miles de especies ya no existen.
Así que ahora marchamos, ahora todos juntos,
Para Pachamama, para la Madre Tierra,
Contra el combustible de carbono, el calentamiento global y el cambio climático,
Y no sólo contra el cambio climático,
Sino para el cambio del sistema,
Para cambiar el sistema que puede destruirnos a todos.
Veo a América marchando otra vez,
Como hemos marchado tantas veces,
Como hemos demostrado tantas veces,
Como hemos protestado tantas veces,
Como hemos ido a la cárcel tantas veces,
Para construir los sindicatos,
Luchar por la igualdad de derechos
Para detener el militarismo y poner fin a las guerras,
Como hemos marchado tantas veces contra un gobierno
De los ricos, de las corporaciones y de los militares,
Contra una cadena de presidentes imperiales,
Sarnosos y tontos, inmorales y malvados.
Así que marchamos nuevamente el 20 de Enero
Para hacer América grande de una vez,
Para que sea lo que debe ser:
Democrática, igualitaria, justa y equitativa,
Una comunidad nacional
En un mundo en paz.
Marchamos y sabemos que no será la última marcha,
Y marchar es solo el comienzo.

(Gracias y disculpas a Walt Whitman)
Traducción por Daniel Ximénez

Gary Johnston

THE BORDER OF THE OTHER AMERICA

At the border of the other America
There are no coincidences
For Mr. Lester Middle
He lives at 17 Apple Lane
With his snow blower, wife
Two and a half kids
Minivan and big screen TV

He does not think or want to think
Or see the need to think

But he cares about the wall
They are building across the border
He hopes they build it high
To keep out what he calls the others
He has forgotten the journey
Over that his father made
Without papers or a pot to piss in
He cares ever so much about quality
And has voted every year for the
Party that will bury him
He wants to take back America
But he has no clue who took it
Or if it ever really existed
He says TV has never lied to him
& the news is as good as gospel
He loves his mother
But hates the dark skinned neighbor next door
He wants those who don’t
Speak good English to go away
But he calls all his friends “youse”
He tells all who will listen
That the foundering fathers
Were good old boys
& the big war over the coloreds
Was really about states rights
& big government
He would love to turn the clock back
But he cannot tell time
He is Middletown America
Sum total of the dumbing down
A beacon to the tempest tossed
Who require lessons in western mystique
Like a dog chained to an empty bowl
He hungers after nothing
He does not understand
He lives a backward state of mind
Moves an inch every five years
Makes the best of his daily bread
& where he ends up is not really
Where he wants to be
He is a true American
Mayflower & jingoism
Last refuge of a scoundrel
The eternal conflict in the American soul
Raised on half thought politics of fear
He lives the lie made truth
Two hundred plus years
Blind faith, sins of the fathers

He does not know or care to know
Or see the need to know

This ignorance he feeds like a blessing
He passes it to his children
He tells them to keep the torch burning
& remember the other & the other always the other.

Robert Gibbons

Frederick

When I think about hair, I think of Frederick Douglass. You remember Frederick, a member of Lincoln’s administration. He had a head full of hair, white tufts that probably covered him when he left the tobacco fields of Maryland. When he ran his feet through the Wye River. He ran away from all that politic and all that slick rhetoric, so he probably towed a line between Mason and Dixon. On occasion he probably had a mint julep and if he became intoxicated he used it to block out the naysayers from the North and the South, but used his word of mouth to hide his real feelings. Frederick was thinking with his head, fed runaway enslaves that sought a better way. Frederick, things have come a long way, but some things are the same. Only, we have cell phones, television, the internet, and technology to push our agendas. There are still wars and rumor of wars.

Frederick, your hair stands as tall as 555 feet, like the Washington monument. Even down to the plaza of Pierpont; damn those torpedoes, Frederick. We want freedom and do not mean those few selected or protected by this or that. Frederick it’s going to be rough and tumble, not the glorified romantic version; but the urge for revolution. Your hair gives character in white truffle like snow or a winter storm like a haiku in written form. Not the plastic, but a real public servant- a real Republic, Frederick Douglass.

Who has hair as tall as the obelisk in red Egypt to pique the interest of the majority? Do not cut your locks Frederick we have not come far from the Civil War. We have legislators and agitators; politicians as morticians. Is God dead- Frederick?

 

Pam McAllister

Ricky_Ray_Rector

Last Meal
(for Ricky Ray Rector)

It could have been a good night at Tommy’s,
but for the $3 cover — an impossible sum —
and the bouncer’s dismissive wave of hand,
years of empty pockets, casual exclusion.
Ricky aimed his bitter gun at fun beyond reach,
left one bystander face to the stars, forever unblinking.
After dodging coyotes and consequences,
two nights on the run, he stumbled up
his mother’s porch, shot a waiting cop,
then begged his own gun for relief.

“Self lobotomy” read the chart.
“Zombie” laughed the lawyer.
“Crazy dude” winced his death row fellows
at ten years of howls and high pitched giggles.
Governor Clinton, lusting for a boost in the polls,
gave a pre-presidential wave to cheering crowds,
and signed the papers.

Ricky saved the pie from his “last meal”
for later,
for later,
shuffling off to the death chamber amiably,
baffled at all the attention,
amazed by the open door.
He would have given a little wave,
but for the chains.

Ricky Ray Rector
    Executed by lethal injection
    Arkansas, January 24, 1992

 

Blak Rapp Madusa

madusa

Excerpt:
“The revolution Huey Newton
im cooking up a solution
im ready to get to shooting
im ready to spark this movement
Das beats it gets to pumping
my head it gets to thumping
got me thinking bout something
freedom thats on my mind got me reaching out something”