‘This is my voice’ by Shane Koyczan

A local Dreamer recited a beautiful poem at a candlelight vigil last night in Cleveland following the federal DACA decision. Seven young men and women shared their stories and their calls to action, but they were also sure mention that hundreds more are absolutely terrified right now and unable to speak publicly. That’s what this poem is about. It’s called “This is my voice,” by Shane Koyczan.

It was one of several emotionally stirring moments at the vigil. I highly recommend watching the video of Koyczan here.

This is my voice
there are many like it
but this one is mine
and it’s a fine line
when you’re trying to define
the finer points of politics
politics being a latin word
poli meaning many
tics meaning blood sucking bastards
but too many live in countries
where it’s bullets instead of ballots
where gavels fall like mallets
when held in the hands of those
whose judgments can be bought
as easily as
children can be taught to covet
and the only ones willing to speak up
are forced to live so far beneath the radar
that the underground is considered above it

this is for the ho chi minhs
and the michael collins
for the marquis de sades
and the muted gods

this is my voice
there are many like it
but this one is mine
and this time it’s for the sons and daughters
who watch mothers and fathers drown in shallow waters
while panning for the american dream
in the polluted creek called the mainstream
this is for the homeless people sleeping on steam vents
making makeshift tents out of cardboard and old trash
trying to catch 40 winks in between the crash of car wrecks
risking their necks by surviving another day
so that they can starve
so that famine can carve their body into a corpse
before their heart stops beating
so that men in a board room meeting
can make it harder for them to get welfare or healthcare
it’s no wonder some of them pawn off their own wheelchair
and every time I walk by I can’t help but feel at fault,
that maybe I didn’t search myself hard enough
for the control alt s
so I could save the world.
I’ve got to cash in my reality cheques
so I can drop the world some spare fantasies
because the most valuable thing I’ve ever learned
is to believe people when they say please

so don’t tell me there are no heroes
this is for them
the women and the men
for helen keller who against all odds found a voice
for the choice veronica guerin made
for martin luther king who stayed just long enough
to share his dream with us
this is for that day on a bus with sister rosa parks
this for the joan of arcs who believe even in the face of sparks
becoming flame this is for the game louis riel refused to play
for the day the dalai lama finally goes home
for dr. jeffrey wigand who alone stared down big tobacco
for nelson mandela who continues to go the extra mile
for the trial that finally found a man guilty of shooting medgar evers dead
this is for everything malcolm x said
remembered by
athletes who left the olympics double-fisted
for arthur miller blacklisted for calling a witch hunt what it was
for galileo locked up because he said the earth revolves around the sun
for anyone who was told to be quiet but instead had their say
and imagine if we could still hear john lennon play
this is for the someone who stood up today and said no
for edward r. murrow who shut down mcCarthy
this is for salman rushdie
mahatma gandhi
this city
this country
we will always have a choice
when you stand up to be counted
tell the world this is my voice
there are many like it but this one is mine

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