The Lie About the Poet Who Told the Truth

“My job as a poet is to tell the truth. To tell it, as Audre Lorde wrote, with as much beauty and clarity as possible. I want my work to enter listeners through the heart and gut. My job as a poet is to wake myself up and take responsibility for learning the truth. That means doing hard work, looking beyond headline stories, being willing to interrogate data, structure, systems. Then, it’s my job to create the conditions, in my poems, where others can wake up to those truths. It may not feel good. I’m not here to make people feel good.”
–Shailja Patel

Remember the blackness that was
pinned to us and how the fury-borne figure
pulled apart the shady clouds, our eyes,
fixed by her fingers toward the sun,
had begun to see—THE TRUTH!

Words were poured into our empty,
words like, “rape is a despicable act!”
and “war kills!” An awe bloomed within
as we interrogated with—THE TRUTH!

And we became compassionate
chimps, thanks to the great
sputtering mouth marking
the nerves with a passion
noble and admirable. No rape
became, no war ate, the sun
and nature became pleasing
and good. And all because of—