The Weight of One More Voice

by Gerard Donnelly Smith

May 10, 2004   


What difference the voiced opinions over those never expressed,
those silent alibis that could have changed the world,
saved someone from the gas, or the noose, or the lead
that flattened against the stone wall, passing clean
through the poet's head?

Did fear make you hold your tongue?

What difference the dissident over the merely complacent
citizen who spends his time sedated before the tragedies
broadcast nightly; the incandescent light radiates
the filtered truth of images hand-selected
for his entertainment?
Did comfort make you turn your head?

What difference the great cry for freedom over the small voice
whimpering in a bombed out hovel in some far off land
that did not exist in your geography before
the zealots and evangelists targeted their enemies
through the sight of unholy rhetoric?

Did fanaticism fill your ears with sand?

What difference the hate-filled words over these words
asking that you stop "the murder and the madness,"
stop defending by defining as collateral damage,
those children whose voice you did not hear
fading at their last breath's exhalation.

Did horror stun you into this cruel silence
or have you no love for humanity?

What difference the weight of one more voice?

Could it be the difference between good or evil
between calling for the executioner or the pardoner,
between the healer and the torturer,
between peace for those who are suffering
or praise for genocidal maniacs?

Did love teach you not to speak your mind?

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Poetry on Swans


Gerard Donnelly Smith, a poet and musician, teaches creative writing, literature and composition at Clark College in Vancouver WA. CERRO de la ESTRELLA (Logan Elm Press, 1992) was chosen for The Governor's Award for the Arts in Ohio, 1992. Excerpts from THE AMERICAN CORPSE (10 poems) were published in Apex of the M in 1995. He is the current director of the Columbia Writers Series, an Honorary Board Member of The Mountain Writers Series, and co-advisor of the Native American Student Council at Clark College. He has also organized readings for Poets Against the War.

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Published May 10, 2004
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