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This is what democracy looks like!

Collective protest for collective bargaining in Madison, WI, Feb 2011. Photo by Flickr user Zach Chisholm (Creative Commons license).

Ever have one of those moments when you think a bad thought that you have no intention of carrying out, and you kind of horrify yourself for even thinking it but you let yourself imagine the fallout nonetheless, and then also feel strangely empowered by acknowledging, if only in your own weird mind, what you could do?

I wrote the following prosy little poem during my self-imposed November daily writing challenge, about a week after I wrote this one. I had in mind the upcoming Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21 (will I see you there?), as well as the last time I attended a protest with more than a few dozen people.

If you’re marching/gathering/organizing/protesting now or any time soon, please be safe, be vigilant, be loud, and be proud.

With just a flick of the wrist

A hundred thousand strong in Madison to protest union-busting and the news trucks lined the sardine streets like yellowfin tuna. God it was frigid, wind slicing at my leather, but this is what democracy looks like, teamsters and would-be bourgeoisie all pissed about portion control and willing to brave the ice with our own fire. At one point the crowd thickened around me and the marching stopped. I couldn’t see but heard raised voices, maybe 20 feet away. Then a man moved against the crowd, pushed through us, and there was heckling, then another counter-current, several men this time, one of them bumped my elbow and the sign I was holding tipped to the side, tapped another sign, and the man I was with put his hand over mine and steadied my post, looking nervous, his eyes never stopped moving, and I thought, I could spark a canon right now. The danger of kissing signage, the domino effect of frostbitten misunderstanding, the wildfire panic of masses, how six overzealous flexors could color chaos up and down the capitol streets, take down buildings, rewrite headlines, alter elections, start or end wars, save or explode the very planet and vaporize the seas… Never say one person can’t change the world with a few well-timed letters.

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