No Safe Spaces

by Fred Dodsworth. November 26, 2016

Standing midst the flames
like wolves’ tongues
surrounded by shattered lives,
the sun sets in the East this time,
a dark orange pallor
casting its sickly shadow
over dreams once offered
it’s a republic, if you can keep it,
said an old white dead guy
while a child, incandescent like the stars,
burns through the night
her eyes the color of embers
an abyss beckoning to a future
too like the past,
another season turn, turn, turning,
Guernica, guerre, resistance …
is inevitable,
art is an act of war.
You Must Apologize! Apologize!
…for the art you never birthed!
for the smiles you made instead,
there are no safe spaces
when the playwright writes
“whenever I hear the word culture,
I release the safety…”
It matters not which safety,
there is no safety in such a storm,
the sibilant hissing sounds Hanns’ made
are as silent or loud
as the starbursts of guns,
the blossom of bombs.
The bird, victim to its falconer
blinded,
its talons torn out,
its powerful beak broken,
this beast knows no center,
only a night of broken glass beckons
such things as happen in the darkness
and still the child stands in the flames,
her burning eyes on you,
on what you knew,
what you know,
what you failed to do
in these times the whole world must be rude,
even to the best of men
artists, poets, musicians,
such soldiers in such a war,
seize up your arms
make no safe spaces for those
who would enchant or enchain us
stand with that child incandescent
like the stars
Make your art hard.

(*Hanns Johst, SS Officer & author of Schlageter beloved of Nazis and the GOP: “Whenever I hear the word ‘culture’ I release the safety of my pistol.”)

A version of this poem was published in Anti-Heroin Chic, an on-line magazine.

An ink-stained wretch, Fred Dodsworth spent most of the last 30 years in newsrooms picking fights. The truth is a slippery bastard and he lost most of those fights. Now he writes poetry and fiction because there’s more truth to be found in fiction than in any news story ever printed.