Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I’ll be honest. I don’t like poetry. Never really have. And I’ve slowly stopped being embarrassed about it. But even I, tone-deaf to verse, can be touched by the truly great. Like Alice Walker.

facing the way

the fundamental question about revolution
as lorraine hansberry was not afraid to know
is not simply whether i am willing to give up my life
but if i am prepared to give up my comfort:
clean sheets on my bed
the speed of the dishwasher
and my gas stove
but still preferable to cooking out of doors
over a fire of smoldering roots
my eyes raking the skies for planes
the hills for army tanks.
paintings i have revered stick against my walls
as unconcerned as saints
their perfection alone sufficient for their defense.
yet not one lifeline thrown by the artist
beyond the frame
reaches the boy whose eyes were target
for a soldier’s careless aim
or the small girl whose body napalm
a hot bath after mass rape
transformed or the old women who starve on muscatel
on the streets of new york.

it is shameful how hard it is for me to give
them up!
to cease this cowardly addiction
to art that transcends time
beauty that nourishes a ravenous spirit
but drags on the mind
whose sale would patch a roof
heat the cold room of children, replace and eye.
feed a life.

it does not comfort me now to hear
(christ should have never said this:
it makes it harder than ever to change)
just as it failed to comfort me
when i was poor.

--Alice Walker


At 2:59 AM, Blogger Preya said...

Yes, it's one of those poems that eats at you, as it should.


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