Dig This: Poets Should Run the World?

I have been contemplating what to write about for several weeks now:  food, organics, health, books, DVDs.  It has been difficult to decide.  I think about the other writers that I share this column with:  Doug Bennett, Jim Collins, Wayne Kessler.  I truly love the different voices we all have when writing our Dig This! pieces.  Jim is deep, really deep.  Wayne focuses on sustainable food practices and food security. Doug is Doug—in the best sense of the word—and covers much territory!  Then there is me—I’m a poet.

I have been thinking a lot about poetry recently.  Thinking not writing.  I believe poets—not politicians—should run the world.  And, I am NOT talking about me, but rather some of my keen-sighted, big-hearted, brilliant poet friends. Even philosophers would be a good choice in running the world, but I will stick to poets for now.  I should qualify:  most poets would not want to “run” the world; they might be convinced to offer “guidance” to the world.

So why poets?  Well, because, poets unlike politicians can see.  They have sight and introspection.  A poet can see, in her mind’s eye, what happens when you drop a bomb on people.  Poets don’t see “collateral” damage; poets see flesh melting and dripping off a little girl who was moments before eating a slice of brown bread with fig jam.  Poets see a dark-haired boy blown up: pieces of his arm, his brain, his intestines spread out like a picnic just caught in the wind.  What do politicians see?  Power? Control? Money? Oil? Collateral damage?

Poets can help people see injustice, racism, deceit, lies, poverty, torture, prisons as well as the spectacular beauty of nature, love, compassion, peace, justice.

But, do we really want to see?  It’s easier to turn away, I think.  It’s not pleasant to contemplate what white phosphorus does to flesh:  burning to the bone.  And it won’t stop burning until the oxygen supply is cut off.  How do you do that?  Mud packs—if mud is just lying around, waiting to be used in such a situation.

White phosphorus and other incendiary materials are not supposed to be used on “civilians.”  But we all know what politicians know:  there’s always collateral damage.  The old man digging in his vegetable garden.  The old woman stirring her pot of potato soup.  The young couple kissing.  The child playing with his kite.  Collateral damage.  In a DVD I have called The Ground Truth, a young marine says—if we’re taking fire from one individual in a block area—we just lay down fire over the entire block—we don’t see the pregnant woman in a blue dress or the children—we simply stop taking fire. Collateral damage.  By the way, this young marine has PTSD, according to his wife. Furthermore, on the DVD jacket, just below the title of The Ground Truth, is the phrase:  SOMETIMES THE GREATEST ACT OF COURAGE IS TO TELL THE TRUTH.

Do we really want to know the truth?  Poets dig deeply into the shadow, into the hidden, and carry what is found lovingly to the light.  But do we really want to know, to see?

I think I will just stop the prose now and give you a poem I wrote awhile back called “Imagine.”

armies of peace
peace brigades

Groups of men and women
all colors
around the world
working for peace
making peace
building peace
building peace

Everything—for peace—everything
Time   energy   money   governments
for peace
for peace

No bombs, no predators, no guns, no incendiary devices, no land mines,
no hit squads, no assassinations, no executions, no torturers, no warmongers
BOOT  the warmongers!

Only hearts full of love, full
of love, filled with love
knowing we can’t bomb
people into peace
knowing we can’t incinerate
people into democracy
LOOK    to the peacemakers!

Jesus—Love your enemies
Gandhi—Love all Mankind
Dr. King—“Love is the most durable power
in the world”

What honor
What courage
What heroes
have died doing loving work

Let us follow
hearts filled with love
hearts pointed towards the light

Pamela Spoto is an educator, poet, and lover of all living things.

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4 Responses

  1. Avatar Doug Bennett says:

    Thank you, Pamela. Another act of love from you.

    It is appreciated.

  2. Jennifer Jewell Jennifer Jewell says:

    Oh I am so with you – and the fact that you are a poet and approach the world in the many poetic and healing ways that you do comes as no surprise to this reader. Thank you!

  3. Avatar Kathryn says:

    How wonderful! I celebrate the poets with you, and their hearts of courage to see things as they are. I am so glad this particular poem of yours is right here, for me to read now.