Poetry Friday: 'Keeping Quiet'

Dec 27, 2019

It’s the last Friday of 2019 and that means the last installment of Poetry Friday for the year. Today, we hear from the series producer, KNAU’s Gillian Ferris. She highlights some of the most memorable segments of 2019 and shares a poem for everyone who contributed to Poetry Friday during a year of intense news stories and divisive opinions.

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GF: 13 year old Aeka Joshi was one of the youngest poets this year. Her poem about school gun violence and having to practice lockdown drills, sent shivers down my spine when she read it to me:

A bullet shatters the glass.

The hands stop moving.

Eyes go still.

Voices take to the street.

Alarms scream, ‘Time’s up!’

We’re still ticking,

But all it takes is a bullet

To stop a ticking clock.

GF: KNAU listener Jamey Hasapis delivered a powerful reading of Frank Bidart’s iconic poem, Queer, a proclamation about the importance of coming out and being your true self:

Lie to yourself about this

And you will forever lie about everything.

Everybody already knows everything,

So you can lie to them.

That’s what they want.

But lie to yourself

What you will lose

Is yourself.

GF: NAU professor +Robert Neustadt shared his poem Crossing the Line, a stark look at family separation and detention at the border:

Swim the river

Cross the desert

Find la migra

Find Mama

We’re here, we made it

The United States

Have we arrived?
New York is near?

Cages

Children in little cages

GF: And Dine’ poet Rick Abasta took on political corruption and uranium mining in his poem Roadside Collection:

Unemployed and negligent,

I am guilty

of American idiocy

and failed dreams.

Jo t’aa’ aniiltso ch’eeh adeiit’i.

Standing in defiance,

I pick trash

Against screaming winds

And welcome reality.

Ach’j’ nahwii’na baa ntseskees.

GF: Poetry Friday, at its core, is about listening. And listening, at its core, is an act of unity, I believe. So, in the spirit of listening as a way of connecting to one another, and as a way to say thank you for all the beautiful poems that aired on KNAU this year, I offer you this poem by Pablo Neruda. It’s called Keeping Quiet.

Now we will count to twelve

and we will all keep still

for once on the face of the earth,

let’s not speak in any language;

let’s stop for a second,

and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment

without rush, without engines;

we would all be together

in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea

would not harm whales

and the man gathering salt

would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,

wars with gas, wars with fire,

victories with no survivors,

would put on clean clothes

and walk about with their brothers

in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused

with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about;

I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded

about keeping our lives moving,

and for once could do nothing,

perhaps a huge silence

might interrupt this sadness

of never understanding ourselves

and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us

as when everything seems dead

and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve

and you keep quiet and I will go.