No Safe Spaces: A Poem by Fred Dodsworth


No Safe Spaces

Standing midst the flames
like wolves’ tongues
surrounded by shattered lives,
the sun sets in the East this time,
a dark orange pallor
casting its sickly shadow
over dreams once offered.
“It’s a republic if you can keep it,”
said an old white dead guy
while a child, incandescent like the stars,
burns through the night
her eyes the color of embers.

An abyss beckons to a future
too like the past,
another season turn, turn, turning,
Guernica, guerre, resistance …
…is inevitable
Art, an act of war.
“You Must Apologize! Apologize!”
…for the art you never birthed
for the smiles you made instead.

There are no safe spaces
when the playwright writes
“whenever I hear the word culture,
I release the safety…”
It matters not which safety,
there is no safety in such a storm.
The sibilant hissing sounds Hanns’ wrote
are as silent or loud
as the starbursts of guns,
the blossom of bombs.
The bird, victim to its falconer
blinded, its talons torn out,
its powerful beak broken.
This beast knows no center,
only a night of broken glass beckons
such things as happen in the darkness
Still the child stands in the flames,
her burning eyes on you,
on what you knew,
what you know,
what you failed to do

In times like these
the whole world must be rude,
even to the best of men
Artists, poets, musicians,
such soldiers in such a war,
Seize up your arms
make no safe spaces for those
who would enchant or enchain us
stand with that child incandescent
like the stars
Make your art hard.


–Fred Dodsworth

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No Safe Spaces: A Poem by Fred Dodsworth

by Fred Dodsworth time to read: 1 min