The Effects of Imperialism

They cry endless tears
They make calendars of sorrows
Things are too strong, too great, too hard, too frail, too big, too small
No one remembers where they’ve put the inbetweens

They long, afraid to put a name to the feeling
Old songs whispered throughout the day,
No longer able to sing in their own language,
The people don’t know who they are.

And they laugh about how loud everything is,
Especially they’re voices.
Ice on glass, the embrace of friends:
Wouldn’t you yell if you weren’t being heard?

People wear a kind of stupor like a mask
In and out of buildings, homes, children’s schools
The days go by without notice.

Complacency is the worst sedative
For it makes the strong forget they are wounded
And no one recalls how to get up.

They don’t live in deserts
But it’s easy for minds to go barren and raw.
Red sands hide the scars of war well,
The red rocks of memory could have been monuments

But everything is too stark, too set in stone.
Identities formed through struggle
Wrap like mistletoe,
Draining life out of the oaken heartwood at the center.

Strings cross yards to hold the weight of clothes,
Strings cross wooden frames, waiting to be played,
Strings attach to every letter of every word
That could spell a way out.

They walk on stranded ground,
Along the edge that’s split three ways:
Land and sea and sky,
Not sure why everything is spilling over.

If only they could follow the threads of what is left
Through the maze that nobody remembers starting
To the place where who they are lies in roots and trees
Where the land shapes them, and they no longer shape the land,
Where signatures could be torn from the tarnished pages of history,

Be replaced with their own.

They wonder why, they wonder why,
The reason is written on their faces
But mirrors have been outlawed here.

Otherwise the problem and solution
Would look back at one another
On the surface of a pool,

And somebody would have to dive in
And bring up what lies beneath
The surfaces that seem so smoothed over.

What kinds of unknown things
Would you not understand and yet recognize
Or would you not recognize a self
Formed from the clay of your own belonging
No longer handed to you?

Figures that stood for something immense and grave
Serve the purposes of a country that’s lost it’s origins
And those that profit from that
Do not own the stories they tell.

People argue about who is right,
They argue about who is wrong,
They argue about arguing.
They argue to hear themselves talk,

They argue about who has given them they’re names,
And who has disowned them.
There are as many streams of water as there are streams of people,
Neither is quite sure where to go
Just sure that they are going.

Things don’t just change, they exchange:
Songs for silence,
Mirrors for security.

This silent security,
It stalks the land like some wild animal.
People created it, it waits for the day it will capture everyone’s heart.

We are not the silence or the struggle,
Or the ferocity of wild cats,
Or the shards of broken dreams.

We are not the ancient songs or the lost children.
We are not yesterday’s mistakes or today’s forgetting.
We are not what you told us we were.

Piece by piece, we rebuild what reflects us
Greater than all we previously dreamed,
Louder than the keening of a fractured past,
Our cries are the sounds of what is to come.

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