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Marilyn Buck


Post-war 1947
born on the white
side of the tracks
Texas segregation
civil rights preacher's child
fled Texas with honor's diploma
for UC Berkeley and free speech
though I did not know then
that's why I left

Vietnam war 1965
what war
are you fighting for
make love not war
college books tossed into a trunk in some room
I've never seen since
fires of internationalism called me
a girl
to enlist
in the anti-war
war against Amerikka
my own women's liberation on the line

war in Amerikka
war against the warmakers
           white-skinned haters
           capitalist consumers of human lives
following the tradition
           Nat Turner John Brown
           Wobblies subversives
resistance in the belly of the beast

clandestine war 1973
captured by the killers
spirit killers nationkillers
a political prisoner
enemy of the state
terrorist and traitor
white woman dangerous
to white Amerika
condemned to years
and years of absence
a lifetime

wait for its prisoners to die
or go crazy
or simply wither away into insignificance

I rest, a grain of sand
significant on the beach head that meets the sea
to face the storm
I wage resistance
to stay alive
I learn to search out freedom in the breath
my cells send out dendrites
to absorb the world and its offerings
I offer back
and occasional grains of sand
mixed into clay and fired
into sturdiness

Autumn 1999

This poem appeared in
Becky Thompson, A Promise and a Way of Life
University of Minnesota Press, 2001

Mariann Vizard visiting Marilyn
Marilyn with writer Mariann Wizard