“My name is Maxine Waters and I am not afraid…”
“My name is Maxine Waters and I am not intimidated…”
She did it deliberately;
in doing so, she named me.
It’s like she came to my kitchen table.
Named now, known now & more able
to live into my best self.
Not sit on some safe shelf.
Even as I sometimes carry clumsy doubt.
no longer can I opt out.
No more can I be inbetween,
oil profits are plain obscene.
Forty billion this year alone.
I gotta do more than just phone
my senator or rep.
They're too timid, ain't got real pep.
With their own stealth wealth,
they're on the wrong side of the hedge,
Me, I've made this pledge
declared my own name
not for riches or fame.
I have taken a side
I’m here for the whole damn ride:
Peace & justice is what I abide.
This can’t be narrow, got to be more,
it can’t just be about this damn war,
easy focus for leftist white girl like me.
This is about imperialist hegemony,
like forcing Aristide once again to flee.
This is about abject poverty:
Meth-implosion sucking hearts dry
Leaving children abandoned, only to cry.
This is about materialism, violence,
addiction that has silenced
far too many young brown faces
and those from working class places.
Media-spurred accumulation strains
not only our souls and brains,
but the earth’s precious store.
What in the hell are we doing this for?
We are taught to fear the stranger.
Registries define who is a danger.
Yet as I understand,
for both household and homeland,
this is not the whole reality.
It is not the one unknown to me,
brother crossing border illegally,
attempting a life of more decency.
Sometimes it’s our uncles, fathers, teachers
Sometimes, like now, it’s our national leaders.
Ms. Waters named me, gave little choice.
She named all within sound of her voice.
She called to those within reach of her words,
to all those who hear and all who have heard.
Since I’ve written this poem , it’s true:
it means that now you are named too.
(cc) Karen G. Johnston