Shuen

Malaysia

Spoken

June 14, 2020

PROMPT: This I Believe

2
I believe in the power of words to come flying
swans whooping as they pass,
children with rain in their hands and eyes and hair,
healing breaths from a neem tree,
golden angsana leaves drifting like ocher snowstorms,
I believe that words fly.

I believe they are awake,
with agency to take on a life
of their own after our lips give them birth;
they are sentient children barreling through childhood into adolescence.
Some become adults, some stay
young and wild, made of fiery water,
washing over this great globe we call home.

I believe words move like streams of night,
like tendrils of a dream not everyone has.
I believe they tie cultures and languages and peoples together until we
tear like shredded paper whirling over forgotten tracks.

I believe we can’t wait
for people to start speaking true, that we have to do it ourselves.
I believe that words can listen as well as proclaim,
can give life and take it, can sanction, can judge,
can sentence this world into paragraphs of pure reason
without mercy, mercy without justice, can force
truth into the mess we make, unapologetic and unafraid,
wild like a thundering herd of
storks running across sky.

I believe in the power of words to breathe
into our empty spaces, filling all the cracks left over
from wars and hatred and hushed deaths in the middle of the night.

I believe in questions, in asking
where is my father?
in waking sleeping masses out of our own slumber with one
word, the one that creates,
the one that blinks and smiles and reaches up to turn on the sun.

I believe words aren’t afraid of us, that we are
controlled by them, like ants running
to and fro on lakes of molten speech.
I believe that ink can fill a page,
I believe, I believe

That we hold more strength in our
mouths than a hundred atom bombs,
that we eat death daily and swallow the pills of life, silent,
that we speak the hardship into flesh, I believe we
are all culpable.
Even the babbling infant.

One day the words will break
out of the straitjacketed meanings we assign,
taking back their being, taking back their significance –
in short that words will rebel
and push our mouths shut
so they can stitch the truth back into reality.

I believe there will be an end to everything.
I believe that sometimes it is better to not have
all the power because then we have the responsibility.
I believe that if we give words enough space to work
they can change this world and that sounds
like a dream, and maybe it is. But just ask the words:
they will tell you.

They will say yes, we know.
We know you, and we know ourselves,
our limits and our limitlessness,
our potency and our helplessness,
our slavery, our slaves,
our poverty and oppression and our feet treading on the backs of others,
we know all this and we speak it,
we speak it.

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