POETRY: Continental Divide

by Art Gomez

Poets and Pirates and Punks flock the streets. Some carry signs, some shake a fist, some flip the finger, some light a torch, some break a window, some loot a shop, some simply pray in the face of mace and tear gas spray and say we must have a peaceful way. 

Many fired up youth block the streets and march; caught in the crossfire of fire and brimstone and vigilante fire. As did courageous elders in past decades, they risk their blood; all while fearful xenophobe fascists revel in the flow of the other’s blood. This blood, thick and warm on the street, is not mine; is not color free; is equally red when spilled, but skin is all some see. The blood on the street is not mine but my blood has been forewarned. With the crystal clarity of a Reich night, the next time it could be me they don’t see. 

I might ask: “How did we get here?” but this is the wrong question as it presumes we were somewhere else before arriving. Historical fact is we’ve always been here, the only difference being how deep or shallow the racist river and how high or low the supremacist tide. Hatred exists in a continuous ebb and flow. Even when receding it never retreats to concede, it just reconnoiters, needing only a little acid reign tongue, preaching poison, to be fashionable again, to be “In the right.” 

No one is completely immaculate, especially those who claim to be. No one is entirely perfect, especially those who claim to be. No one is absolutely righteous, especially those who claim to be. No country, “Of the people,” long survives the unopposed claims of the immaculate, the perfect, and the righteous. 

Are we now so widely divided we can’t bridge; only wall? Does hatred now dictate reality? Our country must not accept this. We need Poets and Pirates and Punks to persist in holding up an unflattering mirror. And, all of us need to continue our country’s long slog along old paths in old shoes, old paths in new shoes, new paths in old shoes, and new paths in new shoes. Even a continental divide can be traversed if we are willing to step across.

Art Gomez ©opyright 2020

Art Gomez was born and crazed in Omaha, Nebraska. As a child being surrounded by flat lands he developed a fascination with mountains and in 1981 he moved to Seattle. After many years working in the field of developmental disabilities he is now retired. Art’s poems have appeared in various publications. He is the former host of the PoetsWest poetry readings at Seattle’s Green Lake Library.

Featured image: attributed to Ann Larie Valentine under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.

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