Saturday, January 28, 2017

Poems of Resistance, Power & Resilience – Louise Visneskie

Close up image of a microphone on a stage. The audience that is facing the microphone is blurred, appearing as a myriad of colors (red, white, green, yellow, etc.)
As the incoming administration builds its agenda of attack on marginalized people, on freedom of speech, on the earth itself, poetry will continue to be an essential voice of resistance. Poets will speak out in solidarity, united against hatred, systemic oppression, and violence and for justice, beauty, and community.
In this spirit, Split This Rock is offering its blog as a Virtual Open Mic. For the rest of this frightening month, January of 2017, we invite you to send us poems of resistance, power, and resilience.

We will post every poem we receive unless it is offensive (containing language that is derogatory toward marginalized groups, that belittles, uses hurtful stereotypes, explicitly condones or implies a call for violence, etc.). After the Virtual Open Mic closes, we hope to print out and mail all of the poems to the White House.

For guidelines on how to submit poems for this call, visit the Call for Poems of Resistance, Power & Resilience blog post


-a poem found within Nixon’s 1969 inaugural address
by Louise Visneskie

Each history is fleeting, standing course
converging, spiraling our own lifetime. 
In throwing wide the earth, for the first time,
the people are afraid as a nation.

What kind of nation we will be [?],
what kind of world we will live in [?],
If we succeed, generations to come
will say this [wa]s our greatness.

the America of this century str[uts] wealth
more broadly than ever in black as well as white.
America's youth driven by weakness approach
a Nation ravaged by depression and material things.

We have found ourselves rich in raucous discord .
We are caught waiting for a crisis of  spirit, [yet]
the better angels of our nature come in simple trappings.
most needed today are our voices

a fever of words; promises not bombastic persuading.
shouting quietly enough so that our words can be heard,
our voices of anguish, the voices without words,
the voices of the injured ,voices despaired of being heard.

a government employ[ing] better excellence
rebuilding, improving, must press urgently forward.
plan[ning] now for the day
The American dream does not fall asleep.

Our great need now is to reach
the legions of the concerned, the committed. ,
The lesson[s] of past agony 
match the magnitude of our tasks,

 important small, splendid efforts
 make headlines in the nation
 we can build the spirit-each of us
raising it one stone at a time, caring not

for a life of grim sacrifice [but]  high adventure
- free in the shaping of a cause larger than our talents;
 promis[ing] only to go forward together
 black and white together, as one nation, not two.

Let us take as our goal:
where peace is unknown, make it welcome;
where peace is fragile, make it strong;
where peace is temporary, make it permanent.

Seek an open world in which no people
will live in angry isolation.
expect to make everyone our friend,
try to make no one our enemy.
We invite a peaceful new adventure .
to lift up the poor and the hungry.
know[ing] that there is no substitute for days
and even years of patien[ce]

take an oath today in the presence of God and countrymen
to the cause of peace among  trong and weak alike:
peace is victory for those who have suffered;
the opportunity for all to choose their own destiny. 

See the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful
[While] we endure a long night of the American spirit.
Let us gather the light, not the cup of despair,
cautious of the dangers but sustained by our promise . 

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