Friday, January 30, 2009

Quiet revolution

When he was little he learned the hard way
that each small act would never
make a difference

Just to be sure
his father drilled it in:
you ain’t never gonna amount
to nothing

Fifty years down the road after a series
of bleak disappointments
he decided to give it a try anyway,
so he went out one morning
and stood on the street corner
to anyone who would listen

This one crossed over
so he wouldn’t have to hear him
and maybe smell his stink

That one coughed an old cough,
and quietly offered to hear him out
if he’d buy a copy of the Watchtower

This one stopped and bantered
just looking for trouble, until his pit bull
dragged him off so she could take a crap
on the thin dirty strip of grass

That one curled his mouth, swore
in his big-man suit
and told him to get a job

This one folded her umbrella,
stopped and listened with soft eyes
then put a hand on his shoulder
and told him to buy himself a nice supper

So he went back out there tomorrow
and started again, his stories
drowning out his father’s voice
at long last:
You may as well not bother

Because it doesn’t take that many pebbles
to cause a landslide

Rachel Westfall
January 30, 2009


christopher said...

Rachel, this is compelling but I don't think it's done. It's a strong idea that I like very much. It's a good poem and it could actually be a great short story, I think.

RachelW said...

You're right Christopher; it's not done. I've been fiddling with it but it needs more than fiddling. I'm not sure where it's going, but somewhere I think.

S.L. Corsua said...

A fitting conclusion. Makes me think of the "butterfly effect" (a wing flap here, a big storm hits halfway across the globe). Your poem makes me wonder, too, that maybe it's not persuasion that's the immediate goal, but the planting of the seed (of the idea of change, or of doubt in the status quo). ;)

I've finally gotten the hang of these blog awards. (sheepish smile) I've modified my sidebar to include a section on them. You're one of the recipients of the most recent one bestowed upon me. Have a look. You can pass it along, of course, if you'd like. No pressure. (grin) Cheers.

RachelW said...

S.L.-- Sweet! Yes, the butterfly effect... nobody should have to hear that their efforts don't make a difference, I think!

And thank you so much! I am totally thrilled to get a blog award from you-- it means a lot to me! Grins back!

Karen said...

Rachel - How sad that the words of the parent affect this man even into adulthood. Parents need to be ultra-aware that children internalize what they hear and feel from those adults in their lives. This poem is a good reminder.

kenflett said...

sad and beautiful.

RachelW said...

Karen, yeah I think you are right. We get so much of our baggage when we are very young.

Ken-- thank you. Good to hear from you.