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This is a poetic drama written and performed by the CreativeWriters on the Net, BEAT St. originals.  It is currently being published in a book called Language, Literacy and Social Justice.

  All poems were collaboratively edited and revised. Original authors of each piece are listed. Some of the poems are "response poems" where one student would post a poem and  then another student would respond to that character from a different point of view.   This provides an excellent example of how writing online can be a collaborative, cooperative process.  Students then added dance, music, and dramatization for the pieces with a narrator to weave the
  poems into a more cohesive performance piece.

 WE ARE THE POETS: collective writing edited by Molly McDonald
 (Stage direction:  Players all stand in varying heights and position, turning toward audience as they recite their stanza and returning to  position upon completion.)

  We are the poets,
  making dreams of sandcastles and skipping stones,
  worn carpets and green Converse All-Stars,
  the feel of yellow,
  the Everyday.

  We paint broad strokes on a canvas,
  of colors forgotten in the familiar comfort experienced by
  of lemonade,
  blue bowls,
  and purple swirlings in our stomachs,
  of snapshots freezing moments in time.

  We are the poets,
  we set no absolute direction for the reader's journey,
  shape no destiny for the path they choose to walk-
  we are simply shaping and molding a fluid substance,
  not whittling away at stone.

  We are the poets,
  embodying the strength of words.
  Our empowerment of verbs
  enables you to command your thoughts-
  obey, oppress, rejoice, embarrass, seduce.
  Our manipulation of nouns
  authorizes your tendency to label-
  slut, saint, mother, addict, jerk.
  Our reinforcement of adjectives
  gives you the freedom to judge-
  ugly, skinny, catholic, feminine, racist.
  Our pre-meditated deposits of conjunctions
  plant seeds of doubt in your mind-

  Do we use these words too carelessly, too easily,
  manipulating them to our whims?
  Do we force only our own truth?

  We are the poets,
  learning to capture words, and tame them,
  possessing a clarity of thought,
  a clarity of vision,
  that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.

  We discover complexity in the depths of normality-
  the plushness of a blanket,
  pearls released from the mouth of a fish,
  the glow of a night-light.

  We are the poets-
  they that create worlds,
  destroy universes,
  rebuild cosmos,
  just to gain understanding,
  just to add light to a dark room,
  dullness to a bright one.

  World and life intermingle with our ink blottings
  of late-night-coffee seances,
  putting forth an effervescent glow-
  the light of freedom, justice, equality, faith,
  a  light casting a new reflection on the souls of others.

  We indulge them with color, energy, and life,
  only to set them free in the meticulous world
  of shadow and light,
  giving them space to wander, explore, discover.
  We are the poets.
  We live vicariously through characters
  with wild hair,
  who never wear underwear,
  and chain smoke.
  Who laugh at their own jokes,
  use the backs of their sleeves to wipe their noses,
  who are passionate about Tuesdays.
  We are the poets.

  NARRATOR: written by Virginia Little and Katherine Blanke-
  Performed by Katherine Blanke
  (stage directions:  narrator lights a candle and sits stage
  right in a chair throughout the performance)

  I sit cross-legged on the floor,
  sole candle flame
  flickering shadows on the wall.
  Almost a graduate,
  supposedly grown,
  my world lit only by the flame.
  It doesn't show the way.
  What did they teach me-
  parents, school, society?
  Their words, who they are.
  They determined my path for me.
  Don't ever let me see you kissing that black boy.
  Don't talk to strangers.
  Don't go to the north side of town.
  Don't cross the river to the other side.
  The boundaries of class, color,
  just boundaries of difference.
  I didn't question it; I was only a child, I had no say.
  I noticed the groups at school,
  all groups of the same color segregated by familiarity and
  Stay with your own.
  Don't try anything new.
  Don't contaminate your mind with someone else's crazy ideas.
  Stay closed and safe.
  And when I question,
  my teachers tell me to be quiet.
  Don't talk back, my parents say.
  My pastor says he doesn't know.
  My words fail me without action.
  Questioning authority, anything,
  I don't know what I am talking about,
  they say.
  And so the questions are silenced,
  until awakened by some movement,
  someone reaching, some inner scream,
  or an unblinding of the eyes
  refusing the boundaries and the bars of the cage.
  The light doesn't show the way.
  My words become a window
  and this is what I see.

  INVISIBLE by Drew Davey
  (Stage direction:  Young boy in tattered clothes and baseball cap jingling a change can comes to left center stage)

  I wipe my nose
  with icicle fingers
  and my cough feels like
  steel wool
  scraping my throat.
  the chill of the wind
  wells tears in my eyes
  and the coldness of life
  sheds tears on my heart.

  I wasn't quite six
  when we were kicked out of our house;
  Mama's addiction ate the rent money.
  Sure wish I had somethin' to eat.
  She left me alone
  in streets I didn't know,
  said i'd be "better off" without her.
  I'd hate to see how she's doin' right now...
  Every day it's the
  same ole thing-
  gotta beg to eat
  and hug myself for warmth.
  Sure wish someone else would hug me.
  Most people pass me their change,
  sometimes a bill or two,
  except that man in the spiffy suit~
  he pretends his ears don't work.
  The dark invites the cold
  and it seems ironic my house once held a refrigerator.
  Sure wish I had a bigger box-
   my feet dangle out the end
  or my head out the other.
  Tonight my feet are especially cold
  and my head feels especially hot.
  So I think I'll lie down to dream of a better life
  where I have decent meals, clean clothes,
  and a life I'd love to live.
  (Boy lies down on the floor)

  I should just mind my own business
  and leave him alone.
  Never mind that he's cold,
  that he's hungry,
  he's alone with no one to look after him,
  or to play with him,
  or to love and hug him.

  But if I give him some change,
  will it really help him?
  Will he buy food or a blanket,
  or drugs or alcohol?
  Does it matter?
  Will it change his life
  or just make me feel better for helping out a poor little

  Why are children thrown away every day while people
  scream madness about recycling?
  When will we stop battering our own kind and stop worrying
  about material things?

  (to boy) How can you just stay here like this?
  Do you still hope?
  Do you still love your parents who left you here,
  cold and alone without a single idea of how to survive?
  Do you still dream of growing up and becoming the president
  or an astronaut?
  Can you still love?
  Are you capable of love after being left here by the people
  who bore you,
  after being ignored,
  after being denied a life that you could live?

  BABY-BLUE HAND  by Phillip Rhoades
  (stage direction: man dressed in business suit carrying
  briefcase walks quickly to center stage checking his watch
  as he walks.)

  I must of walked by that kid
  Every day for two months.
  Passed him and looked away too quickly
  Hidden in my own life,
  Hurrying to my job.
  But today,
  While the wind screamed at the ice
  And the city shook,
  I heard a silence-
  One voice simply wasn't there,
  Wasn't asking me for change
  Like he had all those days before.
  I think that was the first time
  I really saw him.
  Passed every day for two months
  And didn't see him,
  Refused to see him
  Until he wasn't there.
  I hated myself,
  Worried over what I hadn't done.
  I stood and hoped for that voice,
  The tiny one with a cough.
  But I knew
  He wouldn't be asking for change

  There he is, just minding his own business
  passing the little boy by every day on his way.
  Just pretending he's not there,
  that his business is more important.

  Sir, don't you see?
  Can you see that boy over there living in a box,
  With no one to love him?
  He's just over there.

  That could be you someday.
  You could be out in the cold,
  asking every passerby for change,
  feeling as though everyone rejects you.

  Do you have some time?
  Do you know someone who could help? Anything?
  Or is he just better off invisible?

  I COME FROM DUST by Marta Brill

  Each morning the sun rises over the rows of crops.
  And some days I watch my father get ready for work,
  tattered flannel shirt, jeans, rough hands, strong back.
  I watch his graceful movements with pride.
  He walks slowly to the rows.

  I've seen the world from the back of a pick-up, following
  the crops
  cucumbers then blueberries then apples then corn
  Florida is Arizona is Michigan to me
  same sky overhead, same thick dusty roads, same camps.
  There are always new friends to be made, just like the one's
  we left behind.
  Friends that look just like me, mirrors of my bronze skin
  and black hair.

  This is my home: humidity.
  I come from dust.
  I trace my roots to peeling white wash trailers,
  and parents with back-aches that never go away.
  My dad says things are all right, there is work, we do fine.
  Enough money for the gas to get us to the next field.
  and some groceries.
  Can I have a toy dad?
  My torn shoe becomes a car and races around the trailer.

  On Mondays the vans come filled with white people. I race to
  meet them.
  They play soccer with us and bring us bikes, clothes, and
  Teenage girls give us piggy back rides and swing us by the
  round and round  we collapse from dizziness.
  We give them bags of cucumbers and play our Mexican music.
  Soon the van leaves.
  I watch the dust cloud swirl as it vanishes beyond the
  I wish I could follow.

  Each day I imitate my father's steady stride as he walks
  toward the rows.
  I pattern my movements after his, but stumble over the
  uneven ground.
  My friend Fernando no longer walks beside me to school.
  Instead he follows his father to the fields.

  I sit in an unfamiliar desk and listen to an unfamiliar
  I try to focus on the teacher and the maze of letters and
  But there have been too many faceless teachers,
  too many chalked up blackboards.
  My eyes shift to the open window.

  For the workers a break is a sip of water
  a miracle is a pair of second hand shoes that fit.
  For me, a break is a dance with the sun
  and a barefoot run through the grass.
  I laugh with sparkling eyes and grow stronger every day.
  I see the world as aflame with possibilities from the back
  of our pick-up.
  But they just tell me I am young and don't know any better.

  (stage direction: boy sits on floor just left of narrator,
  pulls off shoe and begins playing with it as if a toy car)

  I don't understand who you are,
  why your eyes aren't blue like mine,
  why you don't live like us.

  Don't you feel limited?
  Always on the go, never staying long enough in one spot to
  make lasting friends,
  to go to school.
  Haven't you ever wanted more than what you have now?
  A house to live in all the time, friends to see every day, a
  more secure life and future dreams?
  Don't you get scared?
  What happens when the work becomes scarce and you have no
  How will you live?
  My uncle lost his job.
  He says your parents are taking his
  and that you shouldn't be here.

  Why do we work so hard to
  keep you out?
  Why are we so afraid of someone achieving
  Our dream?

  DREAMDANCE by Helen Walls
  (stage direction: player sits in a chair with legs covered by a blanket)

  People look at me
      as if my soul is incomplete
      because I can't dance.
  People talk about me
      as if I'm not in the room
      because I can't stand up to challenge them.
  People bury me in blankets
      and leave me in a safe nest at home
      because I can't walk
                   can't walk
         I can't walk beside them.

  As you look at me right now,
      I see the distance in your eyes
      focusing on the color of this blanket
      on the shiny floor beneath my chair.
  I can fight my distance, my prejudice
      only by living in shadows,
      letting you see only my words.
  You can't oppress a sentence
      or stereotype a paragraph.

  I try to tell myself
      it happened for a reason-
      that secretly I am a goddess.
  But that thought, so warm
      tucked inside my heart,
      seeped out through the hole in my chest
  And came out as a sob
      that went on and on...

  Kids dream when they're little
      of running for president,
      flying to the moon,
      playing basketball with the greats.

  I just wanted to dance.

  In bed I listened to my mother and father
      dancing drunkenly in the kitchen
      singing don't you step on my blue suede shoes
  And the sounds of their shuffling feet
      lulled my restless brain to sleep.

  Once, I lept out of bed
      spun around and around my room
  Until I was flying
      and my legs were wings.
  I woke up crying,
      at six years old realizing
      the emptiness that would be my life.

  I try to tell myself
      it happened for a reason-
      that secretly I am a goddess.
  But that thought, so warm,
      tucked inside my heart
      seeped through the hold in my chest,
  The hole that no one ever took the time to sew shut--
      Why waste time on an incomplete soul?

  Her face is so sad,
  mouth closed, unsmiling,
  eyes vacant, unfocused, just blank.
  As if she can't care about what she's feeling.
  I don't know how to talk to her.
  What if she thinks I'm staring?
  What if she thinks I'm trying not to look?
  She's different; she's hurt; I'm afraid.
  It could've been me.

  I don't understand you,
  and I don't think I ever could,
  but I feel for you,
  as little as those words sound.
  Do you still dream?
  You can still do anything;
  your heart can be your wings,
  let yourself fly-
  Fly for everyone who thought you were broken.
  Fly for the dreams that crumbled at your stilled feet.

  ON RETURNING TO IOWA by Molly McDonald
  Even before she was confined to a bed,
  having her feet rubbed was the highest of luxuries.
  So I rub them now,
  my hands working instinctively
  beneath layer upon layer of starched sheets
  and rough blankets smelling of institution-
  massaging, kneading, smoothing away the knots
  solidified by a lifetime of living.
  As my fingers tire from the deliberate sculpting of skin and
  I begin to see with my hands
  proof of what  she's known in her tired bones for years:
  It's time for her to go home.
  She begins her walk
  with the warm evening breeze tangled in her thin cotton
  the fabric caught between her legs,
  absorbing the fine layer of sweat that has settled on her
  throughout the sticky heat of the day.
  Waves of corn lap up against her heels,
  beckoning to her to join them
  in their soundless dance beneath the rising moon.
  She longs to join in the gentle swirling and eddying of the
  verdant leaves,
  Prepared to lose herself in the timeless movement of the
  back and forth, back and forth,  back and forth.
  But upon seeing the beacon of light streaming from the back
  She redirects her path,
  Following the dulcet melody of the rusting wind chimes
  And the familiar sounds floating out of the kitchen windows-
  Shuffling cards,
  Crying babies,
  The scraping of metal spoons against porcelain dishes,
  Heavy footsteps on wooden floors,
  Animated voices,
  Brewing coffee,
  Before the screen door slams behind her for the last time,
  she sweeps the coupling june-bugs off of the cement steps,
  and gives her marigolds a good soaking with the hose.

  Look at her alone in a cold, sterile room
  away from family, friends, life.
  She's lived her life and now been thrown away.
  They say, "We can't take care of you; we have our own lives."
  Young grandchildren never visit, despite the parents'
  They'll never know her visions, her stories, her wisdom.
  All the lost experiences, these lost people,
  the lost heritage,
  we ourselves push away.

  FALTERING FAITH by Marta Brill
  (stage direction: player dressed in priest garb, collar and
  coat, holds a bible and a cross)

  This incense is choking me,
  these vestments weigh me down.
  I try to be like Christ,
  to emulate his spirit:
  such infinite compassion and unyielding love
  that moved me as a young man.
  These days I never know what to think.

  I want to touch
  the bleeding young runaway,
  the empty disabled woman,
  the aching worker from the fields,
  to touch their faces, but reach further:
  I want to sooth their soul.
  But my words are lost
  in a whirlpool of endless doctrine
  drowning out my cries for the
  lonely, oppressed, and dying.

  People come to me pleading
  for help
  confirmation of faith.
  "Yes my son, my daughter
  God above has his plan,
  the greater scheme of things.
  Say five-hundred Hail-Marys
  and don't forget to call your mother."

  Sometimes I think I'm lying to them:
  How can I absolve in His name?
  How can a sinful mortal ever pretend to be clean enough
  to give absolution without hypocrisy?

  "Hello Jane Doe
  Go in peace to love and serve the Lord."
  And as I mouth the words
  I feel the distance between us widening.

  This cross elevates me to God's messenger;
  His Mercury.
  Yet it also makes me responsible for His actions.
  The actions of an absent being.
  I think I see a few holes
  in the greater scheme of things.

  Why doesn't God appear and give us some help?
  I've taught that this isn't his way.
  He's detached
  and just 'checks in' for his messages.
  Maybe it's time he started answering them.

  I read in the paper
  a child has been found
  and left for dead on the riverbank.

  After years of searching,
  I'm further away from the truth
  than when I began.

  I don't know if truth exists anymore.

  So where do I go?
  My bishop?
  but he seems more like a glorified administrator
  one who manages, not tends, the flocks.
  His crosier speaks of indifference.

  So where do I go?
  At night I read the Catechism, the Bible, Augustine
  Squinting at lines of laws and theory
  Abstract and Idealistic
  they inspire
  but do not show the way.

  So where do I go?
  How can I turn to God and hope that He will listen?

  Father, I've seen so many people today.
  People with lost eyes and broken souls.
  Unloved people with shattered dreams and fogotten hopes.
  I see this same vacancy in your eyes.

  Who will help the people, guide them, inspire them,
  when they are hurt and hopeless?
  Where are their leaders, our leaders,
  those who show us the way?

  These lost people are questioning their faith;
  Why isn't God helping me?
  Where is God?
  What is the president doing to help me?
  Where are the Ghandi's and Thomas Jeffersons?
  Religious wars, the constant accusals,
  "you're not of my faith; you must conform!"
  The picketing people outside abortion clinics.
  Why must people shed blood for blood?
  Can't we walk hand in hand instead of meeting fist to fist?

  I know you have these same questions, Father,
  and no more answers than I have.
  But maybe it's time we look inside ourselves
  for the inner glow, the inner fire,
  instead of to someone else..
  Maybe it's time to realize
  Only we can save ourselves,
  through our own divine spirits.

  GAIEA CRIES by Caryn Senour and Justin Sacks
  (stage direction: player center stage with floral head wreath of vine and flowers)

  You've circled my equator
  you've burrowed deep beneath my surface
  left my atmosphere
  and been to the bottom of my oceans
  but do you really understand where you've been?
  You can predict my weather
  measure my earthquakes
  observe my tornadoes
  and record my eruptions
  but do you realize my majesty?
  You've studied my
  Fossils, flaura, fauna
  and researched my physics-
  but can you really understand My creation?
  You have razed my forests, dumped garbage all over me,
  but do you truly comprehend what you've done?
  You have paved me,
  ripped holes in me,
  and used me up.
  When will you stop?
  Take a moment
  from your petty
  human differences
  and get to know Me.

  One day the people of the world will come together
  seeing past race, color, sex, religion,
  our oppressors,
  and realize the common bond between us.
  The desire to touch our Mother, our Earth.
  From that which bore us, to that which we will

  BLINK by Brian Jespersen
  There is a man walking,
  through the streets of depression and despair.
  A man not in touch with the world.
  A man who doesn't care.
  He walks through streets of trash,
  past hideous crimes,
  on past a child being born.
  He walks not caring.
  He walks not living.
  He doesn't see the dawn of sun.
  He can't hear the laughter of children
  and screams of other distant worlds.
  He walks endlessly and aimlessly.
  Not a thought of joy.
  Not a pain at heart.
  He walks,
  until he stops

  What awakening is there?
  The light doesn't show the way.
  How can I reach past what has been expected of me?
  How can I open my eyes and free myself from the darkness of
  boundaries before me
  set by other blinded figures?
  How can I learn new things breaking through what I have
  learned before?
  How do I reach through the boundaries of color, of class, of
  Let my color melt into yours,
  let my eyes reflect yours like the sun on a placid lake.
  Let us understand each other without fear.
  I am the lake; you are the sun.
  Let us reflect each other without the clouds holding us back.
  I mirror you on the inside;
  we fear, we love, we hurt, we hate.
  We are capable of understanding,
  we only need to choose to use it.
  Why fear the unknown, the uncomfortable?
  Why hold the same views, opinions,
  and self to go unchanging for years?
  I still sit,
  my world lit only by the flame.
  The light doesn't show the way.
  Only in my outstretched arms
  and now wide-open eyes
  will the path be illuminated,
  and seen.

  ONE written by Virginia Weldon, performed by Jackie Petto
  (stage direction:  player goes up to narrator and takes
  candle, moves to center stage)

  One match
  Struck against the darkness,
  If only for an instant,
  Forever alters our perception
  Of "things as they are."
  Shadows and distortions
  Are transformed
  And, in the process,
  So are we all.
  One candle
  Held high above our heads
  Illumines the landscape
  Around us
  Extending our boundaries
  Beyond where we stand,
  Challenging us to take action,
  Showing us where we might go
  As well as where we have been.

  One Soul, a fire,
  Is a torch
  Passed from heart to heart
  Stirring embers in some,
  Igniting new light in others-
  And, through them all
  Creating a solar fire
  To birth a fresh sun of consciousness
  As light for our planet.

  It only takes one.
  One match.
  One candle.
  One Soul.

  (stage direction: each player in turn takes the candle and  adds, and One, passing it on to the next player.  All  players finish holding hands and bowing with conclusion and  bow: We are the Poets.)

  HOME AGAIN a post-reflection by Aaron Webb
  Words, words, words, words.
  How can I sit here, scribbling words furiously
  when I could be up
  doing, creating, saving?

  Maybe the next person that I stood next to in the elevator
  would say the right thing
  would suddenly turn me into a neat, organized person
  who Got Things Done.
  Good things, that would save myself, and change lives.

  Maybe a walk on the street would show me something
  something random and wonderful
  that would change my Self into that optimistic, hopeful
  who can spend a night without staring out the window
  for sleepless hours pondering the mysteries of
  evil, war, death, ignorance, classism
  and humanity.
  What I would do to be able to believe that it is going to be
  all right.

  Maybe if I had stayed in the bustling room,
  instead of cowering in a poet's hideaway
  I could have said the right thing to
  or heard the right thing from
  the beautiful, funny woman filled with life.
  Someone cracks the right joke,
  looks the right look,
  and I suddenly get my chance to be the romantic
  falling over myself in loving, giving glee.
  A powerful soul, melding with mine,
  And that first wonderful kiss of love and devotion
  instead of affection or motherly ease.

  Maybe I should be sitting open
  a receptacle for a spiritual experience
  which gives one new life.
  Future insurance, just a martyr away.
  All life's questions answered by lists measured in
  chapter, line and verse.
  A trusted mentor to be followed and listened to
  even on the deathbed,
  a leader who appears on a neat, pious schedule.
  The terrifying concepts of
  evolution, future, universe, and purpose
  set neatly in diamond encrusted boxes.

  Instead of the selfish, archival shit,
  I could be writing things that Matter.
  A fantastic masterwork that could inspire.
  Maybe a book that hundreds of people
  would travel to discuss:
  "The Pedagogy of the Lonely, Heartless, Lazy, Disorganized
  Poet who Retreats and Hopes and Loves and Wants"
  I could write the ultimate treatise of the
  "Win-Win" concept causing Gaiea to weep with joy
  and millionaires and peasants to hold hands
  their music rising above the cold cities.
  Maybe I could write something that would satisfy me!
  Maybe these things are within my grasp
  or I should at least try to achieve some of them.
  But it's all wrong:
  I'll write some more shit
  rearrange my priorities
  snooze through another sunny day
  accidentally repulse the caring woman
  and cry myself to sleep.


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