We Are the Youth
We are the youth and we should know
we want things to be more than now.
A knowledge sleeps in the cracks of our knuckles
and the straightness of our backs
that things must change,
but a knowledge of solutions better than useless resolutions.
We should not
be satisfied with our elders
resting at their desk chairs
sipping their cup of steaming morning headlines
of death, disease, inaction.
They sip and they ponder
the power of resilience:
It is incredible how strong people can be
how they can bounce
like rubber balls
from the depths of suffering and inhumanity
but resilience is not enough.
Resilience can also breed satisfaction with the status quo—
and we are the youth!
We aren’t supposed to be satisfied!
We can rebel all we want
but we must see that that is not enough.
We can’t be satisfied anymore.
We are a generation
with curiosity and possibility.
We may be young, but
we are the grown-ups now
we are responsible for the problems we see
whether we made them or not:
and it is time to change those headlines.
Our burning words must do the fighting now
our singing hands must mold knowledge into
movements more than picketing and reform
before these injustices bury us
our rebelling minds (not just bodies)
must be open to more ways of change than one
our hearts must be strong enough
to understand those who work with us
and those who work against us.
We can let empathy and books spread like callow wildfire
but it won’t mean anything
unless we make it known that we
with the way things are
What will we say with what we know?
How will we strike down
exploitation and despair and corruption and oppression
with these minds of ours?
We saw how changing things with death
(guns need more guns
attacks beget counter-attacks
hate makes hate)—
but apathy also fosters apathy!
What will our children say
when they are the youth
if they find that
in the face of all this shit
we did nothing
when our brains burst with the creativity and imagination
our elders lacked
we did nothing?
Could we live with ourselves,
remembering how our blood coursed thick and strong,
hands clenched throats tightened
cheeks roaringly aflame insides shaking shaking
but did not rise from this collective anger
to harness it
into words and forces
more powerful than those that suppressed it?
Will we be brave enough to recognize
that our liberations
are tied up with one another;
and there is no way we can keep listening
instead of shouting our truth
no way we can stay sitting
instead of standing our ground
no way we can remain uncaring and uninvolved
when it has never been more clear that our lives
are so intricately bound to one another,
the knots impossible to sever
—will we have the courage
to say we see it
while the fire of this recognition
engulfs our flickering hearts?
Login or register to post a comment.
I wrote this poem while studying abroad in South Africa, when I noticed that many of our American social problems are similar to those in South Africa, though in a different context. Surrounded by American and South African youth, I felt inspired by all we had the power to do and frustrated by the pace of positive socio-economic and political change in the United States.