Monday, January 30, 2017

Poems of Resistance, Power & Resilience – Laura Solomon

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


On Questions and Capes: A poem about survival
By Laura Solomon

The cashier at the pharmacy verifies my name, address, date of birth,
looks me over and repeats my last name asking, "Huh.
That Jewish?"

It is 3 weeks after the election.  We are standing in a
Walgreens in a blue state across the
corner from where the high school kids stood on
election day holding signs reading,
"build that wall" and "Hillary for Prison." We are
down the road from the Starbucks where I was lectured on
how young people like myself will be the
downfall of society and
up the street from the house with the Confederate flag painted in its garage, from the
Trump sign that lights up in the dark, from the
pick-up truck with two Confederate flags flying off the back above the gun rack, from the
Safeway where men followed me to my car, tried to get in after me, where I
did not buy from the Kosher for Passover section because
a man in a Trump hat was in the aisle with me spouting ignorance and yet I
why my mouth goes dry as I
stand in Walgreens
trying to answer this question.
Hey Doctor?
If Donald Trump is president, will he hate me?

But Doctor,
when Donald Trump runs the world, will he make people be cannibals?
Will they eat people with autism first?

Is it okay to worry about Donald Trump?
Sometimes I can't sleep because I worry about him, like, about what he might do to my family.

But, Doctor,
Will it be the end of the world when Donald Trump is president?  
Doctor --
Can I be a superhero and save the world from Donald Trump?  Sometimes I imagine that.

Doctor -
I don't know how to be a superhero. 
I tried to fly once, but
I just falled down.
Each session feels like a Bingo card of heartbreak:
a unique pattern of life on the margins,
I find newfound fear as the day's
headlines flash by.
Session 1:
White single father with mental illness raising
teenage son with disabilities has to give up
a day of work to wait
for Medical Assistance transportation.

Session 2:
Muslim woman in hijab has twins with autism, works
nights to support them, about to lose her job due to
inability to find child care. 
Session 3:
Non-English speaking, immigrant mother with
intellectual disability raising child with autism.
Session 4:
Black lesbian grandmothers, one with cancer, one an immigrant, raising
child with multiple disabilities on
food stamps in section 8 housing with a history of
multigenerational trauma.
I find an unleashed
ferocity inside me.
People says we should just
pray, there is
nothing we can do--
I say:
"Fuck your prayers.
Now is the time to fight for the superheroes trying to
across the margins."

I feel so small in the face of the
resilience I sit across from.
What privilege it is to feel
shell-shocked and
curl into my
white, lesbian, half-Jewish shell when all day I
sit with people who only had a quarter shell to start with and it
leaks when it rains.
I was teaching my son to ride the bus.
He was going to do it himself.
Should I let him?  I'm scared.

I want him to be able to work
but I don't know what people will say.
Have you seen all these hate crimes?

But Doctor,
he runs away from me in public.
He hugs strangers, he's
a grown man now.
A 14-year-old black boy.
What do we do?
I spend days telling myself I
cannot do this.

I cannot find
my breath.

I spend my days giving everyone
capes so they are
flying as I
attempt to ask the questions that will
imagine our survival.

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