Atlanta Pride Poem Redux

A couple of months ago I posted about the Atlanta Pride Committee asking me to write a poem for this year's festival program. They told me I couldn't be controversial, despite the fact that this year's them is "Your Vote, Your Rights, Your Future." When I refused the offer, they came back and removed the restrictions. I tried not to be as hardcore, didn't use any profanity and tried to sum up the last eight year's under the Dubya regime as succinctly as possible. The folks at Pride read the poem, liked it and put it in the program. They even sent me the page to proof. So, imagine my surprise when I got a phone call from a friend who picked up the program and said the poem was not included. No one called, no one asked, no one apologized. I'm sure there's a reason the poem was cut, but I'm not going to speculate here. Instead, so my work hasn't totally gone to waste, here's the poem. 

The Sound of Drums

After eight years, the long sleep,
like Rip Van Winkle or a land
of Sleeping Beauties, we take
breath and rise to our feet,
the sound of drums, tapping
subconsciously all this time,
now too loud to ignore.

Hypnotized by fear

…you’re getting sleepy, very sleepy,
you’ll believe everything I say….

we were told to be scared,
of invisible bombs, terrorists,
oil thieves, poisoned water and food,
toxins floating in the air like fairy dust,
turning our kids into fairies.
Some opened their mouths, drank
with both hands.

Remember this…

If you’re not scared, you’re un-American,
you hate freedom and love France,
eat the Freedom Fries, you know you want
a big salty plate, with blood red ketchup
to cover the lies. It tastes so good
going down, try not to choke.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,
watch his big, inarticulate mouth spinning fear
into gold, just follow the bouncing ball. Watch
as it skips over the dead in Iraq, watch as it arcs
over the drowned streets of New Orleans.

But arms get tired, so many lies in the air,
the ball drops, rolls to a stop and the juggler
is revealed as a fraud. The drum beat begins

tapping, tapping, tapping

until the spell is broken, until we are
in the streets again, marching, finally woken.


Justin Evans said…
A really cool poem, Collin. I personally can't find anything 'objectionable' about it. I can see why conservatives would think it's liberal, but it is pretty mild stuff.

A fine poem.
Karen J. Weyant said…
Great work -- I have to agree with Justin. This seems pretty mild to me!
Anonymous said…
They were stupid not to include it. I know you said once before that its hard to write to order but this is good.

It was lovely to hear you read this at Wordsmiths' Books, Coll. I think read aloud, it is even more powerful. Can't imagine why it was cut. Great read at Wordsmiths!
love the poem. very very good.

i'd demand an answer
Speaking truth is always risky, it seems. Clearly you are more dangerous than you know, Collin. Good. I like this poem - sorry you were treated so discourteously.
Kate Evans said…
This poem is in the full spirit of After the Poison. It sucks that they cut it, but hey, you have a whole chapbook coming out! Let us know if anyone gives you an explanation.
Maggie May said…
how RUDE. how unprofessional of them.

i like your poem and it's sentiment.
Liz said…
I agree with Maggie that it sure is rude and unprofessionl - hope you find out what happened.

And the poem is super - nails things on the head, just so...
It's a great piece, Collin. A poem that certainly deserves readers.
Yes, terrific poem. Their loss is my gain, as I wasn't likely to see that festival program!

Popular Posts