Protest Poem 25 Feb 2011

I am (not)

I am not a union member
I am a taxpayer

I am not a public enemy
I am a professional educator

I am not a free-loader
I am a hard-working employee

I am not a moron
I am a person who teaches kids how to think critically as they emerge into adulthood

I am not a slacker
I am a person who works nights + weekends beyond the 40 hours a week I spend on campus for the low low bargain price of $44,500

I am not a “have”
I am a person who took on debt to the tune of $70,000 for the chance to become a professor

I am not a home-owner
I am a renter because I cannot afford a mortgage (see salary and debt above)

I am not a leech
I am a consumer in the Wisconsin economy who will have less money to spend because of this bill

I am not a supporter of this grotesque abrogation of workers’ rights
I am someone marching in Madison and chanting in the Rotunda

I am not a thug
I am an unarmed citizen of a democracy exercising my right to free speech and redress of grievances

I am not the problem
I am part of the solution if only You would listen

Madison Protest 12 March 2011

Madison Protest 12 March 2011

First published in 2011

Main Street Wisconsin
A place for poets to gather.

Poems About Wisconsin Protests,
February 18, 2011-September 11, 2011

published by Verse Wisconsin

Thanks to my friend James Reitter, who is reading this poem at the Northeast Modern Language Association conference this weekend as part of his presentation on the protest poetry that came out of the disastrous ACT 10 legislation in the early spring of 2011.

I think it is a good way for me to close out the poem-a-day exercise I’ve been trying in honor of National Poetry Month. As I figured, I have more work than I had days to post (and missed a few here and there due to chronic migraines).

Four years later, and things are just as bad–actually, they’re worse. The next months while we wait to hear from the Joint Finance Committee and then get a vote by the full legislature in June are going to be hard. But as it has done so often in the past, creative work is a salve that soothes my bitter anger and disillusionment. I can still make art.

I am trying to make blogging here a habit. Research suggests that it takes 21 days to start making a habit of something, and I have a particularly difficult time with doing things because I tend toward Gretchen Rubin’s category for Rebellion rather than Acquiescence. If *I* think it’s a good idea (eating better, cutting down on white sugar, etc.) I will do it, and stick to it. But when someone else tells me I should do it…it somehow never really gets done. Or it gets done, but when I’m damned good and ready (this does not really apply to my job habits, as knowing that my students depend on timely feedback has actually made me very conscious of how soon I get it back to them, and how many of them read it. Last semester I returned major assignments within 6-12 days of when they turn it in. This semester…not so much. For reasons.). This does help me understand my students better.

This month of posting has been gratifying because I have managed to reach an audience well beyond my colleagues and friends–total strangers have been here to read my things, and sometimes to “like” them, and I hope to keep it up on a regular basis. If not daily, then at least weekly.

Topics will include my journey into Cyprianism with my husband and our friends, which will take place over much of this coming summer; my struggle with chronic, not-quite-totally-debilitating-but-bad-enough-to-miss-work pain; my project featuring my grandmother and now probably my mother,  since the work is morphing into motherlines; and my strong inclination to write in and about nature, including my relationship with horse, who has been gone for 5 years now.

Fairly disparate, and unsure what, if anything, will ever be publishable, but at least I will be working.

Thank you for reading.


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