Wrestling with the Angel of Death

Selma Bloody SundaySelma, Bloody Sunday–people who made a difference

I have always believed that every action we take, every word we utter, makes a difference. We either acquiesce to tyranny or oppose it, on all levels: home, neighborhood, nation-state.

The Angel of Death is the fear
That sits on your chest at three a.m.
That tells you, you can’t leave him,
You can’t make a living without him
That sits on your shoulders at a party
And says you look ridiculous
You laugh too loud
And you—you laugh again, in his face this time
And get up and dance
And file for divorce in the morning

He turns the TV up to cover the screams next door
And tells you it’s none of your business
And your hands shake but you call the cops
And go to court, and testify

He sits on your checkbook and recites
The capitalist mantra,
Make the right moves and
You can be another dot.com millionaire
You sing counterpoint about billions who
Live on two dollars a day
Or the eighty-five men who own half the wealth of the earth

He stands outside the blood-smeared doorposts
Of the operating room
When your lover is under the knife
He offers you morphine
And whispers in your ear, If you care less
You won’t suffer
If you just go through the motions of living
You can practice dying every day

He is always the Sonderkommando,
Pharaoh’s overseer, counselor of the wisdom of silence
In the face of oppression, purveyor
Of the lottery ticket of collaboration
And you – you know what’s worth saving
You tear poetry like feathers
From your breast and shove them
Down his throat, and fly away.



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