Category: Poetry

Christmas in America 

 

 

I know you know 

about God‘s beloved 

shivering on the floor

Wondering how hope turned into terror 

Upon arrival in the promised land 

 

I know you know 

about swaddled babies 

ripped from their mothers 

born at the wrong time 

in the wrong place 

in the wrong skin 

 

I know you know 

about free flu shots 

waiting idle in boxes 

while the cough begins to spread

Among the Other 

Waiting idle in boxes

 

I know you know 

about the human crossing borders 

binding people into suffering

instead of protecting them from fear 

 

I know you know 

about our old lady 

Standing with the lamp 

Waiting for tired huddled masses 

yearning to be free 

needing to be White 

 

I know you know

about the stable 

Home to donkeys 

A new family 

And earthly bribes 

For a heavenly gift

 

I know you know 

about sanctuary in Egypt

A fearsome flight 

For first time parents 

hiding the light of the world

in Ill fitting clothes 

begging him to stay quiet

hoping for one more miracle 

 

I know you know 

Whether Mary would be safe 

In your care 

Or if you’d remind her 

That Jews don’t belong here 

Without looking into her eyes 

 

I know you know 

This is Christmas in America 

 

 

 

© Gayle Force Press 2019

A poem by Franklin Oliver

 

 

 

Neighborhood Watch 

 

It was raining like hell

 

When they cuffed me 

I told the cops

It was simple

 

An eye for an eye 

Leaves the whole world blind 

Just like Lady Justice 

Except that I have a smile 

Not a smirk

On my face 

 

See, Trayvon carried skittles 

But I packed heat 

When I followed George

From his house 

Until he idled 

At the drive through  

 

It’s hard to leave a Krispy Kreme 

Once you’ve seen the Hot light  

And it’s even harder 

After I’ve dropped my whole clip 

Into your chest 

 

I told the cops 

It was simple

Lady Justice is blind

But I can see clearly 

 

The rain is gone 

 

© Gayle Force Press 2017

 

 

If you’d like to hear this poem performed, please check out our podcast.

http://whodeannypod.libsyn.com/may-poetry-pod

 

 

Justified Use of Force (for Botham)

 

 

Every year there are

Untold more of us

An Amadou Diallo, Botham Jean,

Eric Garner, Tamir Rice or me

 

Then a loud clamor

Our broken faces on TV

We ask so many questions

That no one’s forced to answer

 

With sympathy’s short half-life

Most just wait for the noise to stop

So the questions

Can disappear once again

 

Just like us

In our lives

And our deaths

 

 

 

© Gayle Force Press 2019

 

Almost Autumn

 

 

Mom’s sick 

And the baby’s just been born

These are the days when life matters most

 

We ignore all the trees that failed to bloom

In front of the houses that hold

Not close enough 


Little bitty families of great big people

And there’s so much ‘just in case’

In every day we spend

And spend and spend

 

© Gayle Force Press 2006

 

Little Plastic Soldiers




The little plastic soldiers
Don’t wear helmets
Or fatigues anymore
Their garments are burkas
Tunics or veils as
Sandaled feet pace
In wait and sand
Those muddied boots
Thrown away


These little plastic soldiers
Have homes and lives
Until we choose
To privilege our newer
Grown ups toys
Since (as everyone knows)
Our SUVs are worth much more
Than the little plastic soldiers
Who have to die
For 30 dollars a barrel

 

A poem by Franklin Oliver

© Gayle Force Press 2003

The Opposite of Jack

 

The opposite of Jack

is a happy fellow 

you know

 

The kind of guy who smiles 

in the midst of the rain storm

the kind of guy 

who always opens the door

and waits

 

The opposite of Jack 

is someone loving

a hard worker 

who hates his job

 

The opposite of jack

is a fun house mirror

in a small town

that’s never seen a circus

 

  

 

A poem by Franklin Oliver

© Gayle Force Press 2019

 

MeatSaladSurprise, a poem

MeatSaladSurprise

 

Beto’s favorite word

is a meatsaladsurprise

Too thick for its guise

of healthfulness,

slightly indigestible

 

See, this is America

The land of the free

who refuse to be brave

 

Because comfort trumps conviction

and clarity yields

an automatic timeout

 

 

We’ll keep wading through disasters

on our raft

of thoughts and prayers

 

Convinced that if we’re

just polite enough

someone else will save us

 

 

From ourselves

 

 

 

A poem by Franklin Oliver

© Gayle Force Press 2019

 

 

 

New Year’s Day

 

 

January 1 is always the same

A bacchanal of sound and fury

Signifying something ineffable

Precisely timed though

Imprecisely valued

 

We pause to notice the flow

Of time’s endless river

Hoping to gain some measure

Of how far we’ve sailed

Or at least gratitude

 

To be journeying for

One new day

One new month

One new year

One last chance

 

 

 

A poem by Franklin Oliver

 

© Gayle Force Press 2015