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The world they leave us (poetry)

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RNC in St. Paul   

If violence

were not the fear

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would helicopters

be disturbing the day

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Labor Day

not so coincidently


If violence were not the threat

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would we be not so similar

to a developing nation

try to shake the shackles of a regime

that tortured


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






Journalists are corraled




as they gather in a garden


hungry for change


A warrant was signed by a judge


certainly not Solomon




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   


 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




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



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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)