Poem: Fences and Barbed Wire

17

Fences and Barbed Wire

The building is wrapped in chain-link fence and barbed wire.
A vestige of the counter culture you were raised in,
a scream to be heard, slogans and declarations
to preserve free speech, no matter what.

You remember the crowds. The protests.
You in your long hair, on the periphery,
absorbing the energy. Vibrant. Alive. Sure

this was what life was about. Ten thousand hearts
beating for justice. Unafraid of colors and absurd fashion,
The power of many, joyfully strong, Did you see us
on the evening news? We watched together in coffeehouses.

There were victories and defeats, but in time we became them,
foolishly thinking the war had been won.

The war is never won.
That is the lesson of your old age.
They have wrapped us in fencing and barbed wire again
and counted on our weakness to hold us at bay.

Justice is not the natural way of things.
It is as artificial as the brick building in front of you
and there is always work to be done and battles to be fought.
And it is never too late to begin again.

About this poem

As I look at the fear that dominates politics, and the amazing battle to hold back truth, I tremble.

The picture was taken in Asbury Park.

Tom

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