Wednesday, September 10, 2008

RNC protest poetry

I mentioned this in a previous post about the Coldsnap Cabaret benefit for RNC arrestee legal defense

Ruth's poem:

I've been looking for a cause
in strangers' bedrooms
the backrooms of dimly lit bars
and at every bus stop between here and the Mall of America

so far I've only found hoarse voices scratching at daylight
a few dirty coins
and my own broken heart

I've never been much of an activist
primarily believing in getting enough rest
and eating healthy
because even I know you can't fight if you're tired and hungry

So I've watched the events of this week with a lot of curiosity
I stayed up past 11
I started smoking again

It all began for me when I meant to go to a party last Friday night
and ended up outside this building
trying to avoid the glare of cameras and the gaze of the police line
and watching as much of the story as possible
emanate from the faces of people who hoped their country was better than this
hoped, but knowing better as
we watched the state's true colors surface

I went home and fell asleep reading what only can be described as chick lit
the kind of book where no one puts a gun in the face of a five year old
I ended up dreaming of shots fired
even though we had heard none
because we all know what sound a weapon makes
when it is only drawn

I felt edgy all weekend in a way I never had before
that kind of feeling when every layer of skin is screaming
something here is wrong

so I marched
and I chanted
and I started to believe that when we said
whose streets
our streets
that it included me

And then, the shit really started going down

and I thought
these protesters don't look like heroes
they just look like roadkill
the riot police don't look like they're protecting anyone
they just look like robots

what is the point of this?

because despite everything I do not believe that people are bad
or that ideas are bad
I believe it is actions that make us evil

but if you put a gun in the face of a child
you might as well put a gun in his hand
and you don't get to choose whose side he's on

I feel like I've got to choose whose side I'm on
and the police made it easier when they surrounded me in full riot gear
while I was riding my pink bicycle
First, they called me a liar
then they ran my I.D
looking me up and down like I'm some threat to national security
while they were the ones hiding in the bushes

No justice
No peace
whose streets...?

I wondered standing on the curb with a cigarette
watching yesterdays crowd become surrounded
while so many voices point out that this doesn't look like America
say they didn't think they'd ever see this our city
and the real cynics reply
get used it

I smash my smoke on the street like it's the state
wondering if the cops will turn their attention on me for littering
but the way things are looking
it doesn't matter
they are thinking
what's one more cigarette butt in the gutter
while in some countries they fill mass graves
like a chain smoker fills ashtrays

I'm trying not to make things worse

Some day, that will be us

and if you can believe it, I'm still not sure if I'm an activist

because I've been around enough to know that being secretly in love with an anarchist
does not make you one

still, I've narrowed down some causes that I think I could get behind
like picking up every penny i see on the ground until they're worth something and then taking us all out to dinner

my cause is to show up to work on time and sober
so i can teach little kids how to treat each other better

my cause is to take responsibility for every different place i wake up in
and to not keep love like a secret

my cause is to be honest about how these things do not necessarily constitute direct action or result in real change

but my cause is believe that these are direct action and real change

my cause is to keep one foot in reality while the power structure attempts destroy it
to keep my other foot
in the street.


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