Mongering’s Fear—like a cloaked beast.
From under furry hood it peeks
With eyes yellow like coins
And upon a bull-horned shaggy monster
On gray clawed toes
Spear in hand.
It does not like education.
It does not like expression.
What does not have a leash upon it
Must be muzzled.
Prodded poked stoked—
“Onward into ignorance!
Onward into the slobbering masses!
Onward into anti-intellectual America!”
toss us your coins
toss us your coins
you are our ever-ever-ever lasting
“We prefer the silence to-to-to
The overbearing dialogue-discussion
Might too much critical thinking bear
We are not-not here to shape strong young
For upcoming revolution.
We are here-here to-to shape young
To speak its name
Would be to summon it up
The wraith that haunts us
Silence be better
Monger’s Fear upward rises
Spear in hand, spear in hand—
It seems to say though it has no voice
Only a plethora of them.
Fox. CNN. MSNBC. Citizens United. And lobbies and lobbies and lobbies—
Wouldn’t wanna make a scene.
It pokes at throats
With spear point.
Behind it I see you.
I know you.
You are not clever
You have been caught
And we will not be afraid.
We will not be silent.
Even the youngest among us
Will raise their voices
And you will be powerless
To stop us.
***It was such an honor to be able to read alongside such amazing poets. I wish I could share some of the other poems from the evening but alas, I didn’t record them because of limited battery life/memory on my phone and it doesn’t appear that the videos of those other poems are online (yet). If I can find them I will most certainly share them because there were some real hard hitters last night. No offense to the local, monthly poetry slam but this is what I had envisioned poetry slams to be after watching so many Button Poetry videos.
The poet who went right before me scored a 29 and was the clear winner from the moment he finished his poem and it was so good the mic dropped itself. (Actually though. The mic stand had an issue and the mic dropped.) The second and third place winners actually tied for second with 27.3 and had a tie-breaker poem-off. I almost placed with 26 on the nose, which actually blew my mind since about halfway through I started thinking my poem was too much hard-edge rhetoric for the crowd. But they enjoyed it, so apparently I’m not good at judging crowds. X)
The poem itself was written with specific reference to a literary journal myself and a few other students tried to start with the guidance of an English teacher in high school, which ended up being censored and, when we couldn’t raise the funds to print off campus but also were unwilling to tolerate censorship, was eventually killed.
Some of what I based this poem on included the fact that the education we received at that high school was incredibly problematic, including sexual health classes that failed to cover some of the basic female biology (outside of vagina, uterus, and ovaries of course) and wild misinformation about female sexuality (apparently first time intercourse is never painful to women, and women never masturbate because they just don’t think about sex as much or have as much of a sex drive as boys? I don’t about you, but I can personally attest to just how false all of this is) and of course government and economics classes which were (when not in the right hands) just straight up required attendance pro-capitalism propaganda fests. And yet, the student body was not permitted to orchestrate a creative safe-space to explore and express our very real life/mental/emotional experiences, primarily because it made certain administrative and community members uncomfortable.
Obviously I still have opinions about the whole thing.
Several things have survived from that era in our lives, however, including promotional videos we made while we were trying to organize a fundraising event to raise money to print off-campus and “archives”* written by my friend and fellow poet (who also happens to be a comedian) Cienna Jade.
*From the Archives: Written by Cienna Jade Simmons, January 30, 2007:
“The administrators’ decision to censor the Spare Gary has some writers outraged. Can the administration legally censor a student publication? Don’t students have a right to freedom of speech as set down in the First Amendment?
The situation is a little trickier than that. There are no clearly written laws describing what’s allowable. Students, most not being over the age of eighteen, must abide by the rules dictated by the school. Constitutional rights do not always apply, but that doesn’t mean that the issue of censorship has not been fought throughout American history.
The Supreme court concluded in the 1960’s case Tinker v. Des Moines that students do have rights, particularly freedom of speech as long as they are not directly disruptive to educational processes. However, more recently, in Hazelwood East v. Kuhlmeier the Supreme court ruled that the school has the ultimate say of what goes in school-run newspapers, especially when the school is the main publishing body and credit is given for the class. Why? Because, the court reasoned, the entire point of public education is to, well, educate, and if a publication conflicts with the educational mission of a school, then it can be censored.
But where does the Spare Gary fit in? Because it’s produced using the school computers, with the help of a school employee, and it’s distributed on school grounds, the administration argues that censorship is necessary to ensure that the content is appropriate for school, even though content similar to what is being censored is already deeply rooted in required classes at the school.” From The Spare Gary Facebook page (because yes — we made a facebook page, as we are determined to resurrect the Spare Gary in <i>some</i> form)