BY ALAN KAUFMAN | Rage, rage against the dying of the light — and the coming of the Trump… .
On Sun., Jan. 15, I will lead, with Michael Rothenberg of One Hundred Thousand Poets For Change, a nationwide strike of citizen-poets: Poets Against Trump. From New York to Los Angeles and New Orleans to Austin, poets will assemble at their respective city halls and other locations to voice their opposition and commitment to struggle.
In Manhattan, we will gather on the steps of City Hall at exactly 1 p.m. Not only are all poets welcome to read but visual artists can bring works of protest art. Any caring citizen with something to declare in the space of a short poem can have his or her say, too.
Then, on Sat., Jan. 21, a Million Women’s March will rally in Washington, D.C., to voice a courageous mass opposition to the Trump presidency. There will also be women’s marches in New York City, San Francisco and other cities.
Meanwhile, in New York, Maria de Losangeles, an undocumented immigrant artist, has spearheaded We Make America, a tremendous new progressive effort comprised of chiefly women artists and veteran activists. Also in New York, Theresa Byrnes, the performance artist, has organized nights of exhibition and symposia at her E. Ninth St. East Village gallery to launch a new artistic front against Trump.
“Let Us” is my anthemic tribute to the love and dream that inspires such efforts: a paean to the poets, artists and bus riders who comprise a new civil rights movement in which we must all represent with the power of our art and the dedication of our ideals. It is a call to be a force not only for compassionate change but fiery revolt against the coming oppression.
For the Poets of January 15 and the Women of January 21
By Alan Kaufman
take ourselves aboard a bus
and travel to the dispossessed
and let us praise their dreamless eyes and hardened smiles
with rogue words of truth
in the killing fields of their hopes
the slum wards and ragged towns and stolen farms
Let us take to them the carnival of our mad and scattered lives
Let us bring them the mountain, let us give them the vision
of an open window, an unlocked door, a bed to sleep in, a plate of food
Let us give them the keys to the house of our love
Let us bare our throats tattooed with roses, our breasts sequined with diamonds
our loins hot with dragons, our hands and feet pierced with beauty
Let us come to their dusty squares and drinking holes with canticles of magnificent defeat
Let us deliver in their mangers of pollution and penitentiaries,
shopping malls and tenements
the hard, beautiful birth of the heart
Let us bring renewal
Let us declare the death of despondency and tyrants
For I have seen our campfires beside the roads like fallen, still-burning miraculous stars
I have seen our bus voyaging to innocence
I have seen us tossed this century like a bone
after ninety years of science and war, reason and corporation
art and Auschwitz
I have seen my vocation descend like a pen to a page
that can never be filled with enough truth
I have crossed a continent of despair and I swear to you, Poets,
I live for greater than myself
You, street-Latin Elizabethan hustlers, I tell you time has come to deal
death’s passionate kiss to kings
Time has come to bare our asses in Paradise
Time has come to write the Constitution with our poetry and flesh
Time has come to costume up for Liberty and ride
with words like steel-tipped whips
into the soul of America
and rage there and sing
till the mouth of every starving child