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Life Arts

The world they leave us (poetry)

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RNC in St. Paul   

If violence

were not the fear

would helicopters

be disturbing the day

Labor Day

not so coincidently

If violence were not the threat

would we be not so similar

to a developing nation

try to shake the shackles of a regime

that tortured

killed

had secret police and prisons

and this is not the election

just a convention

of like mind people

condoning a limited curtailing

of the Bill of Rights

or the freedoms they guarantee

If violence

were off the table

would the police dogs return

to snarl and snack on protesters

desiring only that their voice be heard

that freedom reign

that The Dream be actualized

I Can Not Write

I can not write because somewhere in the Israeli Colony

of Palestine they are building roads

for Israelis only

and fences twenty feet high

and I believe in Israel

I can not write because somewhere in the American Colony

of Iraq they are building bridges

of hate

and opportunities for oil companies

with a private army

and I believe in America

I can not write because somewhere in Israel

Christians are made to wait like cattle in a feed lot

to return to their own homes

and I believe in Israel 

I can not write because somewhere in America

nameless souls are held without habeas corpus

and tortured in the name of peace

And I believe in America

I can not write because I remember the White Papers

and the Declaration of Independence

as the seeds of freedom

I can not write because I remember the history of hate

and see it blooming again

a noxious weed in a field of poppies

When will the signs go up on the water fountains

if there is to be water in Palestine

and I believed in Israel 

When will the curfew come to my neighborhood

or the secret police

and I believed in America

When will the religious right change its name to Al Qaeda

so we will recognize them for what they truly are

and I believed in America

When will Zealots demand not settlements

but death for non-settlers

so we can call them as they have called their persecutors

and I believed in Israel 

I can not write because I grieve

I mourn the world they leave us

my tears a lake of frozen hope

RNC in the Neighbourhood

Helicopters hover

or crisscross the neighborhood by day

disturbing the peace

Sirens shatter almost perfect late summer evenings

 

as storm troopers rush to arrest

 

potential problems

   

A bus load of Americans

 

get a glimpse of Palestine

 

as they gather their belongings

 

and walk to their destination

   

The Holocaust comes alive

 

in that small way of beginnings

 

as gathering places are chained

 

people detained

 

searched

 

catalogued

   

Journalists are corraled

 

Handcuffed

 

as they gather in a garden

 

hungry for change

 

A warrant was signed by a judge

 

certainly not Solomon

 

appointed

 

as keeper of the status quo

   

Are they voices in the wind

 

swallowed by the mainstream media

 

or portend of things to come

Which Americans First   

It a strange thing,

 

a modern day wonder,

 

in fact,

 

a bloody miracle

 

that the new acronym for what we used to call

 

the ethnically challenged

 

to put it in political correct short hand,

 

our rural

 

blue collar brothers and sisters,

 

have been convinced they too

 

are Republicans.

 

If not convinced,

 

at least bought

 

with rebates of around six hundred

 

of our dollars per vote.

   

America First.

 

Corporate America,

 

when drilling oil is the only subject spoken of,

 

health care, education,

 

social welfare

 

are not hot buttons

 

when driving the SUV to the lake

 

or unable to afford the drive

 

to the unemployment office;

 

basically the same thing.

   

Give Big Oil a few more windfalls

 

on the backs of every other conceivable program

 

those votes might not cost as much

 

next time

    Water Water Everywhere   

 I

 like you 

dream for my children

   

not for simple things

 

like a home with a real roof

 

and running water

   

or a homeland

 

where I don't pray I am first in line

 

for the relief trucks

 

with our ration of rice and water

   

not even for a place

 

where the mosquitoes don't bring malaria

 

from fetid  swampy water

   

or strangers don't spray bombs and bullets

 

on their neighbors

 

until a priest is required to wash their war torn bodies clean

 

with Holy Water

   

I

 

like you

 

dream in America

 

not of it

   

of scholarships to lofty institutions

 

letters in athletics

 

the debate team

 

a home on the ocean

 

a cabin on a lake full of clear water

   

a good job

 

a good spouse

 

4th of July barbeques

 

with steaks

 

fireworks and imported mineral water

  

you know

 

the good life

   

Isn't that what dreams are all about

 

http://jeffmccallum.squarespace.com/

Jeff McCallum is a poet and building contractor in Minneapolis. He published "Somebody's Bright Baloon," a collection of poems for and about cancer survivors and caregivers. He remains active in the civil rights movement and serves on the board of (more...)
 
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The world they leave us (poetry)

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