Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Poems of Resistance, Power & Resilience – Barbara Kreader Skalinder

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


What Do You Do with the Mad That You Feel?
with Mister Rogers
by Barbara Kreader Skalinder

When I hear about the Bay of Pigs                               
            I am 15 practicing “Duck and Cover”
                        under the table in my school lunchroom.

When you feel so mad you could bite.

When I hear John Kennedy has been assassinated
            I am 17 discussing Theodore White’s
                        “The Making of a President” in poly-sci class.

When the whole wide world seems oh so wrong.

When I hear about the My Lai “Black Blouse Girl”
            I am 20 reading Yeats’ “Easter, 1916”
                        in the library of my Catholic girls’ school.

And nothing you do seems right.

When I hear Martin Luther King has been murdered
I am 21 teaching in an inner-city school                   
                        where children ask me if they will die, too.

What do you do?

When I hear my friend Art Cooper has lost a leg in Viet Nam
            I am 23 expecting our first child
                        and my husband’s draft number is five.

It’s great to be able to stop
When you’ve planned a thing that’s wrong

When I hear about the Watergate break-in
            I am 26 building a Tinker Toy airplane
                        with my three-year-old son.

And to be able to do something else instead
And think this song:

When I hear sounds of the first attack of the Gulf War        
            I am 44 listening to the radio on my way home
                        where my draft-age children wait for me.

I can stop when I want to, stop when I wish
Can stop, stop, stop any time.

When I hear the planes have flown into the towers
            I am 54 lying on the couch
                        in my therapist’s office processing my divorce.

And what a good feeling to feel like this
And to know that the feeling is really mine

When I hear Saddam Hussein’s statue has toppled
I am 57 drinking wine with my husband-to-be;
                        we hear there were no WMDs.

Know that there’s something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.

When I hear Donald Trump has won the 2016 Election
            I am 70 watching numbers fill the flat screen
                        while my grandchildren sleep unaware.
For a girl can be someday a lady
And a boy can be someday a man.

1 comment:

Wren said...

Beautiful and powerful work! Thanks