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DVG 2011 Fall Conference - Poetic Voices
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As a special feature of our 2011 conference, DVG invited several local poets
to write and perform works that reflected on our theme,
"Holding Together in High-Wire Times."

Find it in the young men, their low-slung jeans
and unstrung shoes, shuttling down the handrails.

Above, the El expresses itself down Broad Street
expresses us up to the high floor hustle

where the window washer, swaying on his twin pivots,
takes a swipe at clarity.

On 5th Street, she lifts the steel window shade,
sweeps the daybreak, dust swirling to the Centro rhythm

as the 47 spins its wheels through the Market,
awnings unfurled in the commotion of commerce.

No point of stillness in this city circus --

rapid transit of mass and weight and gravity,
the push and pull that deflects our progress,

diverts us with forces that are
not enough and too much, and we feel

too much and not enough but stay anyway,
step out each day into air,

risk the fall, are carried away,
ride this turbulent City.

Excuse me

Now didn't you see my hands raised

for the last 5 minutes?

I don't have to go to the bathroom

I just want to answer your question

Why won't you call on me?!

Is it because I stutter every time you ask me to read

Or is it because I'm not smarter than the kids that are sitting in the front row?

Did ever stop to think that this back row makes me feel like I'm on death row?

And you're ignoring the fact that I want to plead my case

No child left behind does not justify

why I'm 18 just learning how to spell my own name

Don't act like that's okay

Tom Corbett, don't act like that's okay

When you know that it's not

Dear 440 North Broad:

I heard their going to cut off 413 of your workers

With the same scissors their going to circumcise our budget with

They say they're going to cut down some security

And we're all invited to party - B.Y.O.B - bring your own bullets

And push aside school sports

We can act like monkeys in the hallway

Yeah let's add a little music to this educational genocide

But take the music from the schools

We can beat box when the bell rings

Yeah get rid of the teachers

The more the merrier we sure can learn a lot with 50 students to a classroom

Education is the key to success

But just like the windows bolt lock the door

It's never a good thing to know too much

They rather incarcerate than educate so we can never get a job

And ask why we rob

And say that we're the problem

No, we're just the after math

But I guess the nation was worried more about Obama's birth certificate then what's really going on

I want to know what's really going on,

Sincerely...student 4169147


Can you answer me

I don't have to go to the bathroom

Because I've had my hand up for the last 5 minutes, last 5 weeks last 5 years since 3rd grade when you built a prison cell as a result of my below basic test scores

Let me answer your question

Of how these budget cuts are going to affect us

when we already don't know as much, don't have as much, not learning enough tell me who gives a .....

I don't need to stand on a corner to know when I'm being backed into one

…do you really think this would help,

Well you would know that

if you just called on me!

The road to lost innocence starts at home
I just want to die
Am I supposed to sit here and act like I don't hear my mother cry?
When I was younger, my sister and I went to our room and would cry with her
And as we grieved, we'd ask each other why can't we just leave?

We grow up but we take our childhood with us
My mind scrambles for solutions
A way to escape this constant conflict
I can't concentrate in school
I am mentally exhausted and physically drained
I wake up tired
Dead without any shots being fired
Heavy burdens, I carry inside my book bag
They weigh me down
I feel like I can't move
I'm stuck in this misery
Mom please tell me why we can't leave?

We will never know the difference a donation can make
Not just a grant
Granting a path forward
so much more than money, even more than hope
truly life giving,
Supporting the shelter provided to an abused mother and her children
not just funding sources
but truly nation building

For many individuals, families,
non-profits and communities its now or never
and your support is needed now more than ever
as the economy has turned
so have our clients
turned to alcohol, pills even food for comfort
obesity and children with diabetes, now a sad norm
our client's needs have only grown
once stable communities now full of foreclosed homes
struggling nonprofits forced to do more with less
your support is the difference between right and left
between life and death
passing a paint brush to a young man
before someone hands him a gun
truly life giving
Helping to make the wrongs Right
you are not giving dollars
not giving resources
not giving charity
you are giving Life...


Now and Always
The wire has been tight
High or low
Low or high
It is always
stable and sturdy
now and always

Until the landing
Forced or willing
It engages
Leading us
Forward backward
It comforts and terrifies

this is the way it is
if its not me this year
then its you
if its not you next year
then its me
Is there an
Now and always

climb the wire
for me
I climbed
The wire for you
all these years
with a smile on my face
my naked bleeding toes
holding on
for dear life
I stood

I stood …
a Neighborhood
a colleague
|a leader
…difficult days
a relevant individual
a fellow a gal
a honey a pimp
a him a her a she a he
I stood

I practiced
Backward Forward
Up down
Trying to find
Difficult and
exciting days

I practiced
In the air
On the ground
Sustaining pain and fear
Does it register
I will
Will you…

On the wire
With me
Back and forth
Toes bleeding
To be
Be a collective force…
Or not

I extend my arms
Offer respect
Positive change
What does that
Look like
To you
To me?
This is a people's emergency
It is a non profit
Not just yours
Not just mine

Forced or willing
There is no dead line
Coping difficult days
High wire days
Now and always


DVG thanks the poets – Beth, Jamarr, Al, Nnamdi and Julia -- for their moving words and performances. Special appreciation to the Samuel S. Fels Fund for their support and to Barbara Silzle for serving as artistic coordinator.