Monday, February 6, 2017

February 6: Poet of the Week, William Stafford, "Peace Walk"

Monday.  Time for me to name a new Poet of the Week.

William Stafford.  He's been one of my favorite poets since I was in high school.  I've been thinking a lot about his poem "Peace Walk" these last few weeks because of all the demonstrations that have been taking place across the country.

This poem reminds me that what we're going through right now isn't new.  People have been marching for different reasons since before the United States was the United States.  Remember a little demonstration called the Boston Tea Party? 

That's why this country is so great.  We are allowed to disagree, state our beliefs, and not worry about being thrown in jail.  At least, not yet.

Saint Marty knows he's lucky to live where he does.  He'd have been shipped off to a gulag a long time ago if he lived anywhere else.

Peace Walk

by:  William Stafford

We wondered what our walk should mean,
taking that un-march quietly;
the sun stared at our signs— “Thou shalt not kill.”

Men by a tavern said, “Those foreigners . . .”
to a woman with a fur, who turned away—
like an elevator going down, their look at us.
Along a curb, their signs lined across,
a picket line stopped and stared
the whole width of the street, at ours: “Unfair.”

Above our heads the sound truck blared—
by the park, under the autumn trees—
it said that love could fill the atmosphere:

Occur, slow the other fallout, unseen,
on islands everywhere—fallout, falling
unheard. We held our poster up to shade our eyes.

At the end we just walked away;
no one was there to tell us where to leave the signs.

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