A poem

I picked up the Gazette on Thursday at the Bethany library. The cover story was about the Oklahoma Modern Family. I have yet to get to that article, but I read something (Jake initially read it to me) on page 6 that has left me with a deep down sense of renewal. A sigh of relief. An affirmation that I'm okay. If you hadn't noticed yet, social issues are a passion of mine. Many of them, not just a cause or two. And politics is a natural interest that goes along with it because so much of what I feel in regard to social issues is put into make or break situations at the hands of political ideology.

Thank you, Lauren Zuniga, for reminding me about Clara Luper, Kate Barnard, Woody Guthrie, and so many others who made big strides [that seemed small at the time] toward progress. Right here. In Oklahoma.

A poem to progressives plotting mass exodus

There is a sick pit in your stomach.
A plantation in your front yard.
The static flicker of black and white.
An absurd talking picture,
where sepia skin is now villain.
You are not sure who to trust anymore.
Everyone walks backward in your neighborhood.
You are surrounded by billboards with hate-sized font.
You are looking for a secret handshake.
A fish with feet drawn in the sand.
Blue paint on the door frame.
You resent even the dirt for being so damn red.
At night you are a furious search engine.
Screaming down the track toward
some kind of Shangri-La.
Portland has no jobs.
Canada doesn’t want you.
You hear property is cheap in Costa Rica.
Even Cuba seems safer than your next PTA meeting.
Anywhere is better than here.
But here is your home.
Here is where you chose to raise your kids
because the people are so friendly.
Do not let them drive you away.
Here is where you are needed the most.
Here is where the sunset stretches its arms wide as forgiveness across stolen plains.
Here is where Clara Luper sat down at the Katz lunch counter and asked to be served.
Here is where black and white soldiers fought alongside each other for the first time.
Where Kate Barnard was elected before she could even vote.
Where hippies squatted in Paseo until it became an art district.
Here is where Charlie Christian learned guitar.
Where Wayne Coyne keeps the bubble.
Where Woodrow Wilson Guthrie played the harmonica for sandwiches.
Here is where the healing has to take place.
Tell them you are not moving.
Oklahoma is worth the wait.
Sometimes evolution feels like
the stinging cramp in the back of your knees when you grow too fast for your outdated bones.
Sometimes it feels like a house in the city
with three goats, 10 chickens and 12 wild kids.
Tear up the sidewalk.
Plant a garden.
Bake a squash casserole and invite
all your terrified neighbors over.
Say “As-Salamu alaykum” to everyone you meet.
Fill out all government forms in Español.
Check all the boxes for your race.
Ride your bike to work. Make art in the streets.
Feed people without a license.
Go to city council meetings.
Sit in at the state House and Senate.
Wear a purple boa. Don’t apologize for your presence.
Write love letters to mothers and fathers in prison.
To the wardens, the police officers, the judges.
Write love letters to queer kids and their bullies.
Tell them you are staying here for THEM.
Kiss a Republican on the cheek.
Show them how to love someone you don’t understand.
DO SOMETHING with that tight fist.
That broken heart.
That liberal mouth.
Progress is a series
of small bold moves.
Don’t leave.
Here is where
we need you.

—Lauren Zuniga
Oklahoma City

Oklahoma Gazette


  1. That's beautiful. I never belonged in Oklahoma, never felt an affinity for the area, never had any real ties there. So occasionally I have to wonder at my friend's sanity-- friends who were born and raised there and have chosen to raise their children there despite the conservative agenda and hate and fear-mongering. But on the other hand, it's true. The state will never change if people don't stay there and change it. I left, and I can't imagine ever going back. But I applaud you for sticking around and fighting the fight.

  2. Glad to see you safely arrived in Okc. I posted on my blog in reply to your comment but figured this was a better place to find you. Hope you and your family are doing well. Sarah-



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