by Kimberly Gladman Jackson

A manuscript in ribbons. Curls of ash
Arising from a plaza full of books.
But also: things a journalist won’t say
In print. Unbroadcast facts; illicit songs
Unsung. A woman’s body, hiding wounds
From sight; a child’s mouth, shut tight against
A truth; a man’s half-conscious longing for
A touch that is taboo. And your own thoughts
At night, in visions turbid, aching, dark.
From prison camps to living rooms, in jails
And in our minds—it has a thousand ways
To twist our souls. Now, most of us do try
To fight it. Though it’s difficult, you know:
With samizdat and cryptograms, our thoughts
Can slip through chains—can fly to mountaintops–
Hang on till glasnost finally brings a thaw.
But many bright lights languish and go out
For might, not right, may triumph with a blow
Or our own valor stay in short supply
Or any of a million vital links
Fray, just as crisis looms. Support’s a must–
For spirits that could soar, if not struck dumb,
May flail in isolation, and succumb.


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