• Janice
  • April 9, 2014

Poem: Everything they steal

This is the poem I wrote in response to Rage Against the Machine’s Song “Take the power back” as part of the Mashed Poetics event at the Verses Festival of Words, Vancouver. At Mashed Poetics a live band played the entire self-titled first Rage Against the Machine album and poets performed new pieces they wrote in response or inspired by each song.  I wrote this poem, thinking about a phrase my friend Adam introduced to me “Take back everything they steal”. After the first draft, I then added a more gentle, loving last bit, then scrapped it after Kat Lennon told me it didn’t really fit with the RAGE of the poem. Haha. So here is the Rage song, then my poem. The poem is meant to be performed with my rage – imagine it.

Everything they steal
by Janice Lee

Everything they steal –
Take it back. Steal it back.
That’s the only way we’ll get it back.
The time for negotiating has past.
We are down to the last tactic.

There is no asking for permission to rewrite the history books.
We’ll just burn those ones and write our own.
You know, we won’t even write them – we’ll speak them,
share them, person to person.
My grandmother has more wisdom in her memory
her body, her hands, than any of your
McGraw Collins de-emotionalized stories of lies.

Everything they steal –
Take it back. Steal it back.
For every racialized person disappeared, missing or murdered
we will walk the night, hoods up, and ambush
every cop who questions the fact that we belong here.

For every oriental rug in a rich white person’s house
we will take over their living rooms
steep their money with our Eastern tea leaves and ask them,
if it tastes like world culture, if it tastes, exotic.

For every lulu leming yoga enthusiast,
we will devote a lifetime to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism
and bathe our spirits in the eternal reincarnation of change.

For every Washington Redskin,
there will be a Black Panther.
For every Duke of Wellington,
a Chief Tecumseh,
For every Stephen Harper you’re-killing-me
we will champion a Chief Theresa Spence fighting for life.
For every “Fair Elections Act” and “Omnibus Crime Bill”
we will be Idle No More and tear down the walls of the prison industrial complex.
For every racist island supplied,
we will sink boats bobbing in Canadian Complacency.

Everything they steal –
Take it back. Steal it back.
That’s the only way we’ll get it back.
The time for negotiating has past.
We are down to the last tactic.

Take the power back?
There is no power to take back.
It has always been in our hands.
We have simply been giving it away
all the years we did nothing.

Take the power back?
No.
REALIZE your power.
EMBODY your power.
GO IN with your power.
Today, is not too late.
For the children seven generations to come,
it’s early.

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