To Be A Revolutionary
by Dee Dee Risher
You cannot love money
or the things it brings,
though the years will come
when you will think all your sacrifices
for the cause entitle you to something
(now the seductive part–
what really, do you deserve for choosing that which is right?)
You cannot love power or influence. Not its raw forms–
the fawning we offer the famous;
the heady decisions put in your kind hands for “the voiceless”–
but also not its subtle disguises:
someone offering the best seat at the table,
gushing (I wish I could do what you…);
sitting at your feet to listen to your wise, radical words.
Some contend it is best
not to love too much
a lover, child, hearth,
though that passion might be what first sends you into the churning night;
and these same can also give you back your soul.
Revolution is hard on loved ones.
You cannot embrace certainty.
She is sure to betray,
Smothering you in her black and white robe
until you will not be able to grasp the unfolding of even
one intricate human heart.
Conviction, on the other hand,
will be the staff in your right hand.
She is relentless for justice and endlessly patient.
She can smell out
water in the desert.
Be wary of movements with their slippery entourage–
pecking orders, coalitions, influence, compromise,
though revolutions often find
themselves trying to enter by that narrow gate,
and perhaps one or two have survived intact.
Every day, oh warrior of change, ask yourself:
who is growing your crops, cooking your food,
receiving your waste, caring for your father, mother, son, daughter?
Who is maintaining the infrastructure
of your revolutionary life (oh luxury
of single-mindedness) while you save the world?
The baptized God-son named the Beloved
by the banks of the Jordan
left that place to go wandering forty days in the desert.
To bring him low,
the tempter offered three things–
bread, spiritual influence, political power–
each cloaked in the Word
(what seductress is greater than religious righteousness?)
Three times that beloved one rebuked the tempter
until at last he was left alone
among the angels and wild beasts
to stare at an old tree against the sky.
He made that long journey
so that you too might learn your name–beloved–
and understand: heroics were never needed;
no sacrifice to prove oneself worthy.
Go out, I tell you,
and stare into the night,
heavy and luminous
with stars, streetlights,
the drone of moving things
(buses, cicadas). Go out.
At dawn, find one shaft of light
in which to wrap your broken self.
Touch this love
makes you weep.
Start from there.
Origin: late Middle English. From Old French conspirer, from Latin conspirare ‘agree, plot,’ from con– ‘together with’ + spirare ‘breathe.’
We are breathing together, plotting Goodness.