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Far from poetry


You canít eat words

Trust me, I know

More that a few people

Have tried to make me eat mine

And I have discovered

They are indigestible


Poetry cannot feed the poor

Words cannot make concrete jungles

into paradise

Last time I checked

The bum on the corner

Wasnít asking

Brother can you spare a poem?

And no one has ever

Even out of the profoundest

Abject desperation

Knocked over a bodega

To get money for a dictionary.


Teenage boys

Donít pawn mommaís jewelry

So they can get one more

Whitman fix

Young girls donít

Sell their bodies on the street corner

So they can buy

Chapbooks to read

To their fatherless babies.


You will not end war

With a poem

I once tried

To stop bullets with words.

It didnít work.


You wonít patch

The hole in the ozone with rhyme.

The rain forest cannot be saved with a sonnet.

Couplets wonít protect

The white seal or the lynx.


A drowning man in the ocean

Going down for what he knows

Is the last time

Doesnít reach out

With the last ounce of mortal strength

For Emerson or even Baraka.


Yet words have power

Power to change hearts

Power to grow minds

Power to birth imaginations

Words remind people

They have souls

Words teach the rich and the poor

The young the old the good the bad

The white black brown red yellow

That we all need to be new

And in becoming new

We can make a new world

Before itís too late.