Friday, December 16, 2011

An Epistle to the Downtrodden

Kerry, over at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, offered a challenge mid-week (I am behind, as always): to write an epistle, a letter of sorts addressed to whomever we choose. Some amazing entries have been offered by fellow poets. Please do click on the link to check them out. Mine is a more humble effort. In the middle of the night I woke up and suddenly knew who I would address my missive to. It makes for some very long sentences, and I didn't know how to remedy that - I just wrote it down as it came. Apparently, I have deep feelings about the disenfranchised :-) Images are of Vancouver's East Side, taken from google.

I am also linking to Poetry Jam, whose challenge this week is: Occupy.

To the supposed Misfits and Outcasts of the World,
brave enough to be
who you really are, judged for being different,
rejected for circumstance,
or appearance
which doesn't fit the perceived
plastic bubble
of what our crazy world considers beauty,
or for mental illness
which really just means
you are attuned to a higher
(and truer) frequency
than we more limited beings can hear,
take heart, for
in the Old Ways,
you were considered
the tribe's magic person,
your utterances heeded with respect.

You seekers and speakers of truth,
you downtrodden,
who burn with the spark of humanity,
offering your true smiles to others
even as you struggle,
looking at us out of your honest eyes,
you who have nothing to hide
and don't know the word for facade,
wanting only to be acknowledged
as a fellow human being
of worth and value,
know that, by some of us,
you are seen.

You, the oppressed, marginalized, disdained,
your poverty causing many to
avert their eyes in discomfort,
you, who pass the ringers of the little bells
collecting money which may, one day,
feed you a meal,
while all around you
people pass by
with their loaded shopping carts,
merrily loading bags and boxes
into their SUV's,
while you think of your children at home,
in chilly rooms with an empty fridge,
remember that your children
have your love and devotion,
worth more than a hundred SUV's
in the grand scheme of things.

Dear fellow being,
know that you have already found
the truth of authenticity
the rest of us are seeking,
know that you are heroic
in your daily putting of one foot in front of the other,
for keeping on keeping on,
that you are worthy and needed in this world,
that your struggle is seen, and noted,
and that, while it may not happen in this lifetime,
in the karmic turning
of the Wheel of Time,
whether as madman or prophet,
as a spokesman for the disenfranchised,
(but never as a CEO or corporate tax evader),
you will come back to this world
of disparity and urgent need,
once more glad to be here,
for life, in all its guises and disguises,
is beautiful.

As the great toppling monolith
of capitalism and commerce
slowly begins to buckle
you, my friends,
who have already learned
how to live richly, with little,
are the experts who are going,
one day, 
to show us the way.

You may feel invisible now,
your voices unheard,
but Believe!
The force of the small and common man
is beginning to rise all over the world,
throwing off the oppression
and manipulation of the mighty.

The tide of man will turn
and turn again,
until the mighty are fallen
and the way made new,
and then, fellow pilgrim,
what a world awaits us
when at last
we come into our inheritance
and Occupy Earth.


  1. This is so deeply moving, Sherry, and (I suspect) prophetic. Your third to last stanza gave me chills!
    This is a very significant piece of writing that speaks to humanity.
    Thank you.

  2. What a kind and caring piece that speaks to so many of those who haunt our streets. Good to see you at Poetry Jam. I still have not gotten my own schedule of visiting the participation sites organized--organization is not one of my strong points. I thought of you recently as we just lost our wonderful dog unexpectedly and I remembered your photo of Pup. (Ours had cardiac arrest on a hike in the mountains and he was only 6.)

  3. So very true. I have a friend who is a shaman and the community/tribe she serves is the mentally ill of the world - fascinating.

  4. who have already learned
    how to live richly, with little,

    Truly, there is a lot to think about here!

  5. Thanks for "jamming" with us, Sherry. A lot of depth and care here, and I definitely empathize with the disenfranchised, the mentally ill, all those who (for whatever reason) live on the streets....but truly I would not wish for the end of capitalism nor commerce. I would hate to think of some of the things that would bring about.

  6. I am grateful for the many gifts I have been given, for the many places I have been able to see, but I my deepest gratitude is to wake up alive every morning.
    Only when we learn to be grateful for the wonderful gift of life on a daily basis, only then will we learn what some of these people already know.
    A wonderful, powerful piece of writing, Sherry. I'm glad you waited for it to come to you.
    Luv, K

  7. Sherry, this is epic, heartfelt, honest, true, and hopeful. I believe it's time for Americans to Occupy Washington, especially "K Street," where all the lobbyists creep and crawl.

    Your compassion is right there. You do not present the pictures with the intent of mocking; you show us truth. BRAVA! Amy

  8. Passionate and meaningful write...I like your brave voice here loud and clear ~

  9. To live richly! To occupy!
    Happy Solstice, Sherry

  10. May we learn "how to live richly, with little" and live without want.

  11. My heart is warmed by the loving message you deliver here to the "magic persons" who count for little in capitalist society. This is beautiful. Thank you for this thoughtful testament to another way of seeing.

  12. Yes . . these things so need to be said. Thank you.

  13. This reminds me of Walt Whitman, Sherry...EXCELLLENT!

    P.S. Hope I can find me a talking or singing
    pig--cats would go crazy with that.

  14. I knew your poetry was something special when I read your "Red Shoes" entry aloud to a small group of friends ... women all in their 60s-70s. Your Poetry Jam piece speaks to so many in our world .. and gives hope.
    I am blessed and thankful for everything in my life.

  15. I really like this and yes if we all would think and occupy earth, together, this would truly be a better place.

  16. I love how this piece championed the truth that every person is a person and should be treated as such, not as a discarded "item" along the side of a dirty road. I especially love:

    "looking at us out of your honest eyes,
    you who have nothing to hide
    and don't know the word for facade,
    wanting only to be acknowledged
    as a fellow human being
    of worth and value,
    know that, by some of us,
    you are seen."

  17. I have often felt us to be kindred spirits Sherry and this reaffirms my faith.carry on comrade.I have so missed your moving and inspiring lines over the past few glad to be back reading.

  18. Sherry, you really hit home with this, there is true emotion in the faces of the disenfranchised, probably what makes everyone feel so uncomfortable. An exceptional poem!

  19. What a beautiful flow of consciousness straight from your heart, Sherry. May your words be fulfilled...and the lowly be revered.
    Gayle ~

  20. Oh, my friend, you speak truth and light. I am filled with admiration and adoration.

  21. It's come to me that the people we label "mentally disabled" are here to be our teachers. What is the main lesson? Love.

    I doubt that surprises you even a blip!


  22. It's the same the world over rich or poor. There'll always be the deprived and the downtrodden caught in the cross-fire with nowhere to go to but to be among themselves. Politicians instead of solving the problems make them worst! Nicely Sherry!


  23. Created a shrill in my heart :)Everything's so beautifully portrayed. Thanks :)

  24. Well said. I like your heart felt letter, optimism and how you often speak for those with little or no voice.

  25. Your perspective seems always to be clear and honed, Sherry. I honor that in you and hope to continue to develop it in myself. Thank you for the examples you set on so many levels.

  26. There is a bravery in putting one foot in front of the other sometimes--this piece is so deeply moving--so much to be said for the unity and connectedness between people as opposed to the materialism which pervades our society

  27. as good as before Sherry.wonderfully written.

  28. Wow Sherry... this is deep and powerful... are you a shaman? I've often wondered if those we label 'mentally ill' are attuned to other worlds. There is so much we don't know and thus fear. I thought it was a wise observation how they live with so much less and will one day need to show the rest of us the way... the first shall be last and the last first... this touched me very deeply.

  29. Such a powerful poem and a lot of food for thought. Thank you for sharing.

  30. Your thoughts are beautiful, Sherry.

  31. Your words always have a clear ring of the unvarnished truth. You speak it fearlessly and for this I honor you! Well done, Sherry.

  32. lovely poem giving us a perspective and something to think about

  33. Wow, huzzah! I don't think I've read such a poignant piece focusing on something that is easy let become out of focus. I really enjoyed the tying together of history with present times, and word combos like "guise/disguise" were awesome bonuses.

  34. massive subject, brilliantly handled. There are so many links, parallels and hooks to catch the reader - important when approaching themes which could otherwise become mawkish or trite. You've judged the pitch and level perfectly. Excellent piece.

  35. awesome write, Sherry!

    Happy Holidays!


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