A Poem and A Song

Today we wrap our celebration of National Poetry Month with two selections: a poem chosen by Alice Rydel and an original song by Joe Pickering, Jr.


In selecting Before the Scales, Tomorrow, Alice shares:

Here’s to memories, friendships, audaciousness, love, activism, prickliness, differences, agreements, forward-thinkingness, organizing, fighting for a world of humanity in such an inhumane time.”

Before the Scales, Tomorrow

By: Otto Rene Castillo

And when the enthusiastic
story of our time
is told,
who are yet to be born
but announce themselves
with more generous face,
we will come out ahead
–those who have suffered most from it.

And that
being ahead of your time
means much suffering from it.
But it’s beautiful to love the world
with eyes
that have not yet
been born.

And splendid
to know yourself victorious
when all around you
it’s all still so cold,
so dark.

Alice Rydel is a builder of the All Stars Project’s Castillo Theatre and long-time activist with the independent political community.


Joe Pickering, Jr. shares his original Song, More American Then Plymouth Rock.

Give a listen, and the full lyrics are below.









(repeat last line in last verse several times and fade.)

Joe Pickering Jr.. Songwriter  Harry King artist and producer  King of the Road Music BMI  C 2017

 Joe Pickering, Jr is the President of Mainers for Open Elections.

You can listen to More American Than Plymouth Rock here.





The True Story Behind The Secret Plan To Steal America’s Democracy 

By David Daley

Will kick off on Monday.

Our conference call with the author will be on Sunday, June 4th at 7 pm EST.


It Wasn’t Supposed to Be Like This

As National Poetry Month Continues at Politics for the People.

A poem by Mary Fridley

A poem I just wrote. The first line is something that my mom said to me when I first visited her after she went into a nursing home.”


It Wasn’t Supposed to Be Like This

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Said simply
No lament of pity
Though many tears
An indictment of life?
A grasp for honesty
by a now blurry mind?
A tribute to dreams once dreamed
or futures never imagined?
It wasn’t supposed to be like this
Perhaps a realization created
as much by an ever-shifting present
than a past regretted
Necessary to say aloud
Preparing for what’s ahead
To live as she can.

Mary Fridley serves as the coordinator of special programs for the East Side Institute.  She is an activist with the NYC Independence Club and lives in Brooklyn.


Roque Dalton

Nancy Hanks sent us two poems by Roque Dalton, the Salvadoran poet and revolutionary.


Nancy writes:

I love our struggle. The struggle of people — of all of us — for fairness and democracy, for bread and roses, for the power of the people. I love poetry. I love Roque Dalton’s poetry and appreciate him for bringing these human values together for us, and for putting his activity where his poetry was. I also love Roque Dalton because he was the progeny of American outlaws.”


roque dalton

Ars Poetica 1974

pardon me for having helped you to understand
that you are not made of words alone.


And this second poem for all of the young people living through this awful and hopeful transition:”


You’ve Beaten Me

You’ve beaten me badly
your brutal fist in my face
(naked and chaste
as a flower where spring

You’ve locked me up even more
with your furious eyes
my heart dying of cold
under the avalanche of hate

You’ve scorned my love
laughing at its small, bashful gift
not wanting to understand the labyrinths
of my tenderness

Now it’s my turn
turn of the offended after years of silence
in spite of the screams

Be quiet
be quiet


Nancy Hanks has been a longstanding builder of the independent movement. She is the founder of the Queens Independence Club.

Tomorrow we will be wrapping up our celebration of National Poetry month.  Stay tuned.


Patriot by Harry Kresky

Today’s poem was written by Harry Kresky

Harry Kresky at National Conference 2017



An urban Jew –
A radical iconoclast.

An American.
Who can’t bear to see his country torn apart
By those who abandon us in pursuit of gotcha gold.


I wrote this poem in to response to the goings on in Washington since Trump was elected.  While I’m no fan of our President, I see the concerted efforts of the CIA, the liberal media and the Democratic Party to undo the result of an election as a threat to our democracy. The poem is also posted on my blog: poemsforfriends.wordpress.com

Harry Kresky is counsel to IndependentVoting.org and one of the country’s leading experts on nonpartisan primary reform and the legal issues facing independent voters.



A poem by Peter White

I wrote this some years ago but it’s still relevant!”




Why I occupy
Let me tell you why
I am moved to really try
By a love force I cannot deny!

Every day I’m glad to be here
To see all the beauty and cheer
Unfortunately I can also see clear
And know that the End Game is near.

The Occupy movement gives me hope
That We the People will stop being a dope!
Humane change is possible if we cope
With politicians who are as slippery as soap.

The two Parties are a corrupt duopoly
They help the rich control their plutocracy
We cannot have a democracy
If more people are into a jockocracy!

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer
They get higher and mightier as we go lower.
Most elected Democrats and Republicans cower
To the ruling elite who have economic power.

We can teach the world to sing
In imperfect but loving harmony
With peace on earth being our symphony
Helping our neighbors in our community.

We each have a role to play
We have the freedom to have our say
We can live in the light and lead the way
To occupy our government and overcome some day!

Peter White is a long time activist in NH and a member of NH Independent Voters.



National Poetry Month 

At Politics for the People Continues

Do you have a favorite political poem that you would like to share? Is there an original poem you’ve written?  Please email me at cathy.stewart5@gmail.com with your suggestions for consideration.


A Poem by Dr. Fields

Today’s poem was written by Dr. Jessie Fields:

This is a poem I wrote in 2013 and was inspired to dedicate to a friend, Mary Fridley, who had just led a workshop on Love and Creativity.”


Mary Fridley and Dr. Jessie Fields

Love and Friendship

Top notes sing, lift high and upright the fallen star

Of love and friendship wide, no meek prelude to hot embrace.

Romance praise of rhyme over rhyme far

Forever unceasing has not and never slackened the pace

Of violence, war and hate everywhere unwound.

Begin again, give what human life requires

To thrive in soul, health and beauty together bound

Workers, a community of people re-creating, a new becoming inspires.

Take down the old books, here is a muse to make

A new world. High history and love in the mad descending hours

Search and create all the ways a hard hand to shake

A cold eye to shine. Teach this love, it is ours.

Jump we humans quick to hate and no peace find

We forget our real preference is kind.


For Mary Fridley

July 13, 2013


~Dr. Jessie Fields is a physician practising in Harlem, a leader in the New York City Independence Clubs, and a board member of the All Stars Project and Open Primaries.



National Poetry Month 

At Politics for the People


Do you have a favorite political poem that you would like to share? Is there an original poem you’ve written?  Please email me at cathy.stewart5@gmail.com with your suggestions for consideration.


I, Too

MM at national conference

Michelle McCleary (second from left) with Danny Ortega (l); John Opdycke, President of Open Primaries; Kathy Fiess and Carrie Sackett at the National Conference of Independents, NYC, March 2017

Today’s selection was chosen for us by Michelle McCleary.

One of my favorite poems is Langston Hughes’  I, Too.  I love the simple defiance and hope of it.





I, Too  

By Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes.
But I laugh and eat well.
And grow strong

I’ll be at the table
When company comes
Nobody’ll dare say to me
“Eat in the kitchen”

Besides, they’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed.

I, too am America.



National Poetry Month 

At Politics for the People


Do you have a favorite political poem that you would like to share? Is there an original poem you’ve written?  Please email me at cathy.stewart5@gmail.com with your suggestions for consideration.


From the Highline


Zoe Leonard’s installation along the High Line, Manhattan. Photo: Timothy Schenck

June Hirsh sent us today’s selection– a poem written by the artist, Zoe Leonard.

Here is what June wrote about the poem:

I saw this poem as an installation posted on the side of a large brick wall on the High Line – it was weather beaten and all tattered. When I first read this poem, I was very touched and also disturbed.  Disturbed when it seems every regressive policy, every cut back, every attack on human rights, growing hunger, the abandonment of poor and working people – nationally and internationally – is being blamed on Trump and on the Republican Party. Then I saw this poem was dated 1992. Bi-partisan complicity – history and food for thought. The time is ripe–build the independent political movement! “



National Poetry Month 

At Politics for the People


Do you have a favorite political poem that you would like to share? Is there an original poem you’ve written?  Please email me at cathy.stewart5@gmail.com with your suggestions for consideration.


Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

Today’s poem was sent to us by Kerry Malloy.

Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you.’ – Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

It’s a difficult thing to say why you are drawn to a work of art. It is for me at least. What happens as a creative endeavor makes the long journey from inspiration, to actualization, and then somehow – finally – to and through another human being is a complicated magic. Explaining it always seems to fall short.
I like this poem.
I think because it holds my loss, my struggles, and my failures inside it but whispers back all the while that they are right and they are good.
They are worth it, the fabric of becoming.
Maybe I like it because it was given to me by a soft quiet woman who I very much adore.
I can’t be sure.
But whether in my pocket or my mind, I carry this with me often.


image (3)

Photo by Lee Jeffries


Naomi Shihab Nye1952

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

National Poetry Month 

At Politics for the People


Do you have a favorite political poem that you would like to share? Is there an original poem you have written?  Please email me at cathy.stewart5@gmail.com with your suggestions for consideration.  


brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

I am a big fan of children’s literature.  So for our celebration of National Poetry Month, I wanted to recommend a wonderful book, a story told in poems. Brown Girl Dreaming is a memoir through a child’s eyes of growing up in the South, moving to Brooklyn as a young teenager from the 60’s into the 70’s.

Most of the poems are short, and they convey a deep sense of place, of history unfolding and childhood skipping away and staying.  They are poems I found myself wanting to savor and reread.


Here is a short quote from Jacqueline Woodson about Brown Girl Dreaming:

Raised in South Carolina and New York, I always felt halfway home in each place. In these poems, I share what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and my growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement.

It also reflects the joy of finding my voice through writing stories, despite the fact that I struggled with reading as a child. My love of stories inspired and stayed with me, creating the first sparks of the writer I was to become.

Below are three selections from the book, I hope they inspire you to get a copy.

the training

When my mother’s older cousin
and best friend, Dorothy,
comes with her children, they run off
saying they can’t understand
the way Hope, Dell and I speak.
Y’all go too fast, they say.And the words get all pushed together.They say they don’t feel like playing with us little kids. So they leave us
to walk the streets of Nicholtown when we can’t
leave the porch.
We watch them go, her
Cousin Dorothy say, Don’t you knuckleheads
get into trouble out there.
They we stay close to Cousin Dorothy, make believe
we’re not listening when she knows we are.
Laughing when she laughs, shaking our own heads
when she shakes
hers. You know how you have to get those trainings,
she says, and our mother nods. They
won’t let you sit at the counterswithout them. Have to know what to dowhen those people come at you.She has a small space between her teethlike my mother’s space, and Hope’s and Dell’s, too.
She is tall and dark-skinned,
beautiful and broad shouldered.
She wears gloves and dark-colored dresses made for her
by a seamstress in Charleston.

The trainings take place in the basements of churches
and the back rooms of stores,
on long car trips and anywhere else where people can
gather. They learn
how to change the South without violence,
how to not be moved
by the evil actions of others, how to walk slowly but
with deliberate steps.
How to sit at counters and be cursed at
without cursing back, have food and drinks poured
over them without standing up and hurting someone.
Even the teenagers
get trained to sit tall, not cry, swallow back fear.

But Lord, Cousin Dorothy says. Everybody has a line.
When I’m walking
up to that lunch counter and taking my seat,
I pray to God, don’t let
anybody spit on me.
I can be Sweet Dorothy
seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day
as long as nobody crosses that line. Because if they do,
this nonviolent movement

is over!


how to listen #7

Even the silence
has a story to tell you.
Just listen. Listen.


say it loud

My mother tells us the Black Panthers are doing
all kinds of stuff
to make the world a better place for Black children.

In Oakland, they started a free breakfast program
so that poor kids can have a meal
before starting their school day. Pancakes,
toast, eggs, fruit: we watch the kids eat happily,
sing songs about how proud they are
to be Black. We sing the song along with them
stand on the bases of lampposts and scream,
Say it loud: I’m Black and I’m proud untilmy mother hollers from the window,
Get down before you break your neck.

I don’t understand the revolution.
In Bushwick, there’s a street we can’t cross called
Wyckoff Avenue. White people live on the other side.
Once a boy from my block got beat up for walking
over there.
Once there were four white families on our block
but they all moved away except for the old lady
who lives by the tree. Some days, she brings out cookies
tells us stories of the old neighborhood when everyone
was German or Irish and even some Italians
down by Wilson Avenue.
All kinds of people, she says. And the cookies are too good for me to say,

Except us.

Everyone knows where they belong here.
It’s not Greenville

but it’s not diamond sidewalks either.

I still don’t know what it is
that would make people want to get along.

Maybe no one does.

Angela Davis smiles, gap-toothed and beautiful,
raises her fist in the air
says, Power to the people, looks out from the television

directly into my eyes.


National Poetry Month 

At Politics for the People


Do you have a favorite political poem that you would like to share? Is there an original poem you have written?  Please email me at cathy.stewart5@gmail.com with your suggestions for consideration.  



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