27 April 2015

Sleeping in Public

The Sentry by Carel Fabritius, 1654


Unbridled whiteness fires me up to share
my privilege:  Please pull up a pillow,
rest a while, let me protest all despair.

White cops’ mis-justice hurts me, too, I fear.
I’m not safe if you can be held so low.
I can't feel happiness when your life’s austere.

Let me walk with you and grow seeds of care
to wake in your footsteps, to learn to know
unrest for real, how to always beware.

Unrestrained wickedness jerks me alert—
Your fragile bones are exposed to real blows.
I thought to forget, but you lived to hurt.

Whiteness supreme is mine to dismantle,
powers to share, achievements to channel.
What cannot be shared, might just be annulled.

I'll stop my walking, will myself awake—
I want the diverse life your presence makes.
If you have no freedom, mine’s a mistake.



Written at the end of a weekend workshop on Whites Addressing Racism. Rough draft Poem #25, April 2015. I'm a weekend behind.  


Copyright © 2015  S.L.Chast





24 comments:

Vandana Sharma said...

Many people sleep on pavements and the ysleep as if they have nothing to do with the world, there is bit of peace along with sadness in their sleep.

Anjum Wasim Dar said...

All the Earth is a place to pray, All the world is a stage and so All the world is a comfortable bed where anyone may lie and sleep...King Abu Bin Adhem saw a man sleeping under a tree with his arm as a pillow...he threw away the pillow the glass and the blanket he was carrying for his journey.....a powerful poem of such awareness a strong call to right action...a daring poem I may say...

Sherry Blue Sky said...

STELLAR writing - your understanding that there can be no peace - no true happiness - without social justice resonates so strongly with me, my friend. A superlative write.

Sumana Roy said...

"I can't feel happiness when your life’s austere."..the voice wells up from the bosom of a deep rooted civilization where reside men of light...a wonderfully uplifting poem Susan

Björn Rudberg said...

to try to catch those precious moments of sleep when the color of your skin provokes a hatred says way to much of humans,..

Nataša Dolenc said...

brilliant metaphor! that last line makes you think..

kaykuala said...

Beautiful place to share not just the privilege but the consequent blessings arising. Racism certainly will not fester in such an environment. Great lines Susan!

Hank

Poppy said...

Susan, a very gripping poem which demands attention from all the senses, speaks ethically to the mind, and begs the heart to feel.

'I'll stop my walking, will myself awake—
I want the diverse life your presence makes.
If you have no freedom, mine’s a mistake.'

A powerful devotion, conclusion, and pledge.

Poppy

Old Egg said...

The sadness is that so many are happy that there are underdogs in society to make their own shallow lives seem better. If only more of us that can see injustice would be brave enough speak up.

Mary said...

Excellent writing, Susan. So many lines to think about, so many lines that make the reader gulp! This IS poetry.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

This is so melancholic... to think of all those people sleeping on the pavement.. with no idea of what tomorrow holds!
To hope for social justice.. and strive towards a better world... all these sentiments are wonderfully depicted in your poem!

Lots of love
xoxo

Donna@LivingFromHappiness said...

Susan this is such a powerful piece all should read and understand....your ending line says it all for me, 'If you have no freedom, mine’s a mistake.'.....it is time we must all put our freedom on the line for those who are still fighting for theirs.

SuyashJ said...

what a powerful write- freedom what matters

Myrna R. said...

Yes, yes!!! Love your thoughts here Susan. There is a need for revolution (peaceful) to dismantle supremacy and it needs to come from those who've been held supreme as well as those who've been subjugated.

Peggy said...

So very appropriate, Susan. We are none of us safe when some of us are in danger.

Dr. Pearl Ketover Prilik (PKP) said...

wonderful poem and an absolutely fantastic final line that can certainly serve as a mantra for all!

C.C. said...

I love the power of recognition present in this! Have you ever read an article titled, "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack" written by Peggy McIntosh? If you Google it I think you can easily find it. If you haven't read it, I'd highly recommend it and I think you'd enjoy it and find themes very in line with what you've written here and with your workshop.

Moonie said...

words that speak clearly of our societal illness. I love the stanza that gives hope by planting seeds of care..

Thotpurge said...

Important to articulate ... "If you have no freedom, mine’s a mistake"... well said.

Tammy said...

that last line is so powerful, and with that picture, as an animal rights person, i feel that way, that animals should have the same freedoms we have


My Brain is a Cheap Gadget That Spins

Gabriella said...

I liked the way you talked about the sad current events. These are very powerful lines. I particularly like 'I thought to forget, but you lived to hurt.' and, of course, your wonderful closing line. It has the feel of a classic.

G L Meisner said...

A wonderful take on topic.

Gillena Cox said...

A right sentiment for our planet blue. Thanks for dropping by to read mine

Much love...

R.K. Garon said...

Nicely done...
ZQ