Degrees of Darkness

Unfortunately, this is one of those pieces I feel that I should preface with a warning (but in no way an apology). I am unabashedly conservative in my political and social view and beliefs, and this piece reflects a great deal of that. Contrary to current media/political propaganda, that does not make me a racist. I believe the cause of Martin Luther King Jr was just and justified. Sadly, we have veered far from his path and dream. We celebrate the man, but I fear his ideas are dead.



We no longer strive for the pursuit
of happiness, especially not for all men.
No, today we are concerned only
with our own agenda, a compromise
being defined as you agreeing to do things
my way.

“When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring
from every village and every hamlet…

Definitions of Right, Correct, True,
and Freedom become blurred.
We live and argue based on the degrees
of darkness we are willing to accept.

…from every state and every city, we will
be able to speed up …

The murder of a fetus is acceptable,
the killing of a murderer is not,
personal protection is ostracized,
protecting criminals glorified,
success and ambition demonized,
government control of wealth promoted,
religious persecution protested,
unless the persecuted are Jewish or Christian,
personal responsibility and achievement discouraged,
dependence and societal blame advocated.

…that day when all God’s children, black men and white men,
Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, …

Fifty years ago a great man preached equality
and freedom for all men,
regardless of race or religion. The war still rages,
the battleground has changed;
class is the new race. Now, the black man
is persecuted by his own if he dares to succeed,
the color of his skin irrelevant in the face
of his group association: called Uncle Tom,
uppity, sellout and oreo.

…will be able to join hands and sing in the words
of the old Negro spiritual…

King’s example secured a right to vote, freedom
to achieve and the potential for equality.
Tell me he would be pleased with his followers.
Tell me he would approve of the agenda of those
who use his name.
Tell me he would accept trading his hard-won vote
for subjugation to a governmental master.
Tell me he would agree what we have now is racism.

…Free at last! free at last! …

Convince me he would not be crying in the streets,
mourning the bastardization of his dream.

…thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”



Filed under Poetry, Poetry - Prompts

15 responses to “Degrees of Darkness

  1. so with you on this one…my how times have changed, for this old woman to have been a part of the movement in the 60’s and see what we have today brings sadness to my heart, tears to my eyes and gets my soap box out from the shed. Great write my friend. God bless!

  2. Strong and coherent. The coherence is not easy in this form, but you mange it with your structure. Well done. You are a conservative like my husband is. That word doesn’t mean you aren’t intelligent, or progressive. I like the piece.

  3. Mark…loved your intro though it was not needed…you’ve no need to defend the common sense your words SCREAM…ideally loud enough to over come political affiliations and societal failings…Love the truth that makes your voice so vital today…I was raised in a home that was run by a business…I have huge philosophical debates with my dad on a regular basis regarding the state of the world, the business, banks…I love the honesty that you write with and the only way we will change things is by having enough decency to listen to every side of the “argument” that has been fabricated by our labels and our histories…

  4. Mark–I agree with Tash that you have no reason to defend what is called common sense. The sense you have is far from common. I enjoy it when you share your perspective.

  5. Mark, no need for the preface, if more conservatives had the decency of discourse that you have (although I disagree with your politics on some points) perhaps the Conservative brand would not be suffering the ridicule it gets from the Media because of the idiots who have hijacked the conservative discourse in this country.

  6. Common sense never requires an apology. I think the dream remains, but we have muddied its call, sadly racism is still alive and well here.

  7. Great poem! It is both beautiful, meaningful, and a little sad. I love the interludes in italics too 🙂

  8. your voice is strong on this…and while we may not agree on all political fronts you speak with wisdom beyond the rhetoric…i think both sides have to come down off their bastions if we will ever see a way forward …the right is jacked up…the left is jacked up…at least to the far extremes…and we will never see a way forward if we stay there…

  9. I see and feel your conviction in this writing. I think we have come a long way from the ’60’s, but still have so far to go. Discrimination is alive, whether against blacks, hispanics, or anyone that doesn’t fit the demographics of whatever neighborhood one lives in. Discrimination takes other forms too– against age, the poor, illiterates, the handicapped. Yes, we’ve come a long way, but still have a long, long way to go.

  10. I don’t agree with you at all.
    That said the question before you is how does this stand as poetry.
    Didactic poetry regardless of point of view is generally not well favored; however I do have a couple of favorites – Kipling’s IF comes to mind.
    I think this has at its root something of protest poetry – I’d suggest you look at Ginsberg’s HOWL and a few other really good protest poems – even Whitman or Joyce might give rise to a more convincing and powerful way of writing this. One that might make me say, Yes – maybe not in toto but in part I agree with this point of view.

  11. Reblogged this on Awakened Words and commented:

    It raised the blood pressure last time…appropriate again for today.

Some of what I write is true, some is fiction; most is merely possibility.

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