Freedom Riders
March 3, 2013

I haven’t written in a slam in a while
And when I ask myself why, it’s because I don’t think it matters
For all my flashy adjectives, $2.00 words, and over extended metaphors,
I don’t think I’ve made a damn bit of difference in the world

Television continues to preach the gospel of narcissism and materialism
Homeless people are still dents in the blindspot of society
Closets remain stuffed with fewer rainboots than gays
And school hasn’t gotten any less stressful
But hey, Rome didn’t fall in a day
And maybe we just haven’t waited long enough

Or maybe I forgot why I started writing in the first place
Writing has never been about fixing problems --
Checkbooks and fists do that
Writing is a coping machine
A vehicle by which vast worlds of emotion can be explored
Nevermind that the engine is stuck in neutral

The fallacy is that people think that writing about something changes it
It doesn’t. The only thing it does is make it easier to reprint.
Because when fist come to glove,
A dumptruck full of poems won’t cloth the homeless
Any more than dreaming of syringes helps cure HIV

The problem is that lately, I’ve been trapped under the weight of the impression
That the only problem we have is that we’ve been using the wrong tools for the job
It’s not. Maybe what we need right now is a gentle reminder
That it’s okay to dream
It’s okay to write
Just as long as you understand that pencils and emotions can’t change the world
Actions can

And I’m not so naive to think that this poem is the answer
But sometimes I worry that I’m letting things get too far
Because I’m too busy daydreaming that
I can’t even hear the sirens of my own somnambulence

We’re the freedom riders with flat tires
Sliding backwards off treadmills
Just me, a cop who pulled this car over
And you, a drunk driver with a nothing more than a poetic license

Why are you so mad?
They’re called first-world problems because they’re solved in that order
So maybe if you dialed down the volume on your social megaphone
We could figure out how to turn stories of malnourished kids in Africa into more than a good excuse for not throwing out your sandwich
Since last time I checked you can’t cure starvation with food for thought

But you couldn’t care less if you tried
See in your world, screaming is always the right answer
And now that your steaming rage is fogging up the mirror
You can’t see the monster you’ve become
So when your infant nephew starts crying
Try reassuring him the ends justify the mean

The only censorship you know is the beep on the answering machine
And all you’ve got to show for it is a neverending stream
Of sevenscore soliloquies dissing the American flag with trendy hashtags
That pisses me off
Because real progress is a verb
And you can’t describe it in 140 characters or less