A Spoken Word Kind of Poem

never give up
never stop fighting injustice
a rhetoric of hate is not good for this country
it is not good for any country
it is a dangerous road to travel
tell the leaders — abstain from vilifying the poor and the hungry and the needy
those who need bread and sanctuary
i am grateful when people ask me for help
children innately respond positively to this teacher’s request
“who is a helper?”
our country can be one of helpers not hurters, not fear mongers, but fish mongers
(that reminds me, i bemoan the loss of the charming local stores in NYC)

last night i had a dream of teaching a discussion about race
and gender
and another teacher called a girl a boy
and we all were insulted
and the girl said something wise
and more than half of the kids’ hands went up and i said
You’ve started a great discussion
and I woke missing teaching my high school English class,
the bigger discussions you could have with older students,
where it wasn’t all about getting them to behave but it was about getting them

to think, to share, to build on and from one another — not tear down

i was really into the Starz documentary of American and Me
my childhood friends Nancy Irvine and her mom Mary Ann were in it
they were so good. so honest. so like themselves.
ordinary, extraordinary.
and that is probably why i had that dream.

wanting to be like the dedicated teachers, parents at the school
and I connected with so many of the Oak Park River Forest high school kids
those who were not sure of their place

or those who used spoken word to convey their truths
spoken word was not a thing when i was young
but man, i love the spoken word raw energy, their radical stories of growing up
and finding their voice
i missed all that
and Ms. Stovall’s honest dialogue on race, so cool. so good.
permission to talk about difficult topics — the places and ways we need to grow.
so needed. don’t sweep it all under the rug.
talk about your identity, how you see yourself — your flaws with authenticity.
be an ally. love the human race.
but do not deny that many have it harder than you based on their skin tone.
acknowledge that there is bias – which is different than prejudice
find your space
notice your privilege. we’re not going to get it perfect. but we have to try
we have to strive to live in the community
the neighborhood
the glorious melting pot
with each other

random thought: i miss my kids
but it’s a kind of missing them from an earlier age
and i miss my younger self too
i miss the early days with Chris
for who we are now is not who we will always be.
and i worry
i go down that worry road and doubt the future sunshine

tomorrow might be sunny
it might rain
i’m not giving up
not at all
not me
not today

gotta keep going

put hate away. tell the country’s leader to stop hating on the poor.

we’ll give up another day. until then, we love, we go down a road for justice

When my kids were little, we’d lay on the floor and look up at the Great Blue Whale at the Museum of Natural History. It was as if we were deep under water. I miss those days


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