Winning Poem: ARTillery Poetry Slam 2 Comments

Winning Poem: ARTillery Poetry Slam

Read more about the Artillery Poetry Slam here.

By Kirsti Whalen.

These are the things that I don’t know.

I don’t know how to do calculus.

Or long division.

Or short division.

I don’t know how to cook a steak

(I’m vegetarian).

I don’t know how to re-hang hinges on my broken door

And I don’t know how to live this life

without expecting more.

I don’t know what it means

to be raped and tortured.

I don’t know what it means to put your faith in the police

I don’t know what it means to live in a state where you think you’re safe

because of the police

then have all of that trust betrayed

and know your faith’s been thwarted.

I don’t know what it means

to go to trial believing that the truth will save you

then sit within that witness box and watch the system fail you.

When I went to court

For driving too fast and forgetting to pay

they just patted me on the back and sent me away

I don’t know

What it’s like

To know you’ll never walk away again.

I don’t know what it’s like to lay

On a cold hard table of steel

and feel my life’s last injection

the injection that will take all that I am away

because some man in some office thinks that’s okay

I don’t know what it’s like to stand in a row, back to the wall

And know I’m about to be shot

I can try to imagine

But I know not.

I don’t know how to stand up here and wax lyrically about oppression

I don’t know what it’s like to be a refugee

Held for years in dank detention.

What I do know

Is how to say

That I don’t know

And that’s okay.

Because if I know I don’t know then one day

I’ll find out and know I know and in this way

When I do speak out

I’ll know it’s true.

So I want to ask the law makers and the policy makers

And the policemen spraying pepper spray

And holding up their guns

And the war fighters and the war makers

And the person with his finger poised upon the button

Which is going to kill someone

Do you?

  • alistair

    Great poem! V strong rhythm, compressed ideas, a good read

  • Jess

    Love it, strong message, good flow, like the realism in the content.

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