A quiet little poem

In announcing its submissions policy
The literary journal stated
It did not want
Overtly political poems. You may
Rest assured that this is not
An overtly political poem
About the millions of renters
Soon to be evicted because
They couldn’t keep up their rent payments
During Covid.

This is not an overtly political poem
About the ever-expanding
Homeless crisis
And the refusal of our government
To allot the resources
That could create homes
And care and treatment
For all who need it.

This is not
An overtly political poem
About people going into crippling debt
To pay their medical bills
Or their tuition,
Even, sometimes,
To buy groceries.

Please do not mistake this
For a poem about structural inequality,
Systemic racism,
Mass incarceration,
About hysterical hatred of those
Whose sexuality differs
From good old tried and true
American fucking,
About hypocritical and lethal
Foreign policy
And the obscene amounts of money
Showered down upon the Pentagon.

Oh, and this is not a poem
About that bugbear climate change,
All we seem to hear about
These days,
The threat to all life on earth,
Etc., etc.
But this poem
Is not about melting glaciers
And rising seas,
And wildfires run amok,
About the destruction of forests
And ever-increasing consumption
Of the carbon that will choke us
To death.

No, no, no.
This poem is not a polemic,
Not a rant, not a political screed,
But a quiet little poem
Written as I sit in a rocking chair
On a clement summer afternoon
As a faint breeze blows in
Through the window,
A quiet little poem
That asks a quiet little question:
What shall we do?

Buff Whitman-Bradley’s newest book is And What Will We Sing? a collection of protest and social justice poems spanning the last 25 years. He podcasts at thirdactpoems.podbean.com and lives with his wife, Cynthia, in northern California. Read other articles by Buff.