Clover bracelets

When we were children
On summer afternoons
We would sometimes sit out
In our grassy back yards
Picking clovers
Using our fingernails
To make small slits
In the stems
Through which we would insert
Other stems
Again and again
To create clover chains, clover crowns
Clover bracelets and necklaces.

Today I sat on the grass
Of the Civic Center mall in San Francisco
Making clover bracelets
As I listened to the impassioned voices
Of people opposed
To the extreme violence
That the State of Israel is enacting
On the bodies of Palestinian people,
Including Palestinian children.

Viva, viva Palestina!
From the river to the sea
Palestine will be free!
End the occupation!
Israel is an apartheid state!

There were tens of thousands of people there today
Families with young children
Teenagers full of beauty and fire
Plenty of oldsters as well
Drums and chants and fervid speeches
Banners and flags and leaflets
Moral outrage almost palpable
Almost smell-able
Almost taste-able

Some days it is so utterly disheartening
To be alive in this world
Of unspeakable cruelties
But when we can come together
As we did today on the mall
When we can speak not in many voices
But one
When an old man can sit on the grass
Making clover bracelets
Listening to an uproar
Of our better selves
Demanding an end to barbarity
An end to bestiality
Then maybe
We can honestly and realistically
Anticipate a day
When the darkness will lift
When the Molochs
Will be transformed
Into the ones they have always believed themselves to be
When children will no longer
be crooned and rocked to eternal sleep
By the savage lullabies of falling bombs

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 and lives with his wife, Cynthia, in northern California. Read other articles by Buff.