My friends

I think of what it would take to go underground these days.
I think of saying goodbye to everyone I know and love.
You think of how hard it is to shut down the facial recognition friends
and how hard it would be to give up money.
I think of how many have survived as hermits in mountains
over the eons when governments have gone bad.
Now they remove whole mountaintops.

I think there is no such thing as superior firepower
and hasn’t been since the A bomb, before I was born,
and I am old already.

I think of being Snowden in. I think of the people
watching him, the cameras, the scrambling.
I think of docks and passports and megacities.

I think of a man I know who is afraid
his years of peacework have made him a target.
Decades have passed, but
he cannot sleep, feels he is being invisibly tortured.
He keeps friends close and enemies closer,
inside his head.
You think, what would it take to disappear him, for good?
You think, what would the new underground railroad look like?

I think of him as an early warning system.
I think of myself as a decoy.
This is what speaking out looks like.

I remember reading about those who harbored holocaust victims:
you remember hearing about the Sanctuary movement.
Decades have passed.
You remember the holocaust: the lessons: this is what fascism will look like.
Decades have passed.

You say, is it too late?
You say, if not now, when?
I wonder, how would I feel about this if I were Muslim?
I wonder, how would I feel if I were a young black man?
I wonder, even an old black man. In jail.
Now.
As decades pass.

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2 thoughts on “My friends

  1. Karina, this is very thought provoking. Very timely. For me, courage is an every day necessity, like water, air, food. My foundation in my spiritual practice, which is rooted in Taoism and Buddhism, teaches me to practice seeing my self as empty, or always changing, like a river, and to release attachments to security, safety, permanence. This is what allows courage to rise – the realization that what I feared before does not have to make me fearful. Thank you for this poem. I had forgotten that the Great Turning will also cover the realms of government surveillance. You brought it home for me in a new way.

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