Jo Walton (papersky) wrote,
Jo Walton

Make Earth Great Again

So this is a poem I wrote on Twitter, with the horrible constraint of 140 characters per stanza, and worse, not being able to go back and edit. (Don't do this. Write it in Protext and copy it into Twitter, if you have to. What was I thinking?) What I was thinking was the impulse of response, combined with having the beginning come to me. I spend a lot of time combatting the Romantic image of poetry. I admit I do it as an exercise, I seldom admit I do it because I can't stop myself. But sometimes, stopping myself can be very hard. Nevertheless, revision is valuable, and so is having time to think. This is revised and a little rethought, and improved by taking the trouble. Also with more punctuation and with "and" instead of the & Twitter forced me to use.

The impulse was that I'd tweeted a link to the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog, with the note "just in case". And somebody said "But how can we get there?"

If they built an ark they wouldn't take me
I'm old and fat with a disability
And menopause, it's just too late
So I'll stay and make Earth great.

You know, like Earth was great before
In the Great Depression & the Great World War
Before the world turned soft & kind
And left all that behind.

When men were men and whites were white
And justice wept and might made right
And all went on as it did before,
Like 1984.

With real people on real Earth
Those just like me who know our worth
And real people aren't trans or bi
Or funny colors and I know why.

If I had to own those folk were real
I'd have to care and I'd have to feel
I'd use respect and empathy
And have less left for me.

Is a woman real without a dick?
Is a gay, a Muslim, is someone sick?
If you have to grant that they're people too
Does the world have space for you?

Of course we know that the answer's yes
But asking caused this hideous mess
But if we keep on shovelling shit
There's a pony under it.

We can make Earth great without that fear
Look round, accept that we're all real here
Respect is not a zero sum
And empathy never dumb.

And Earth's great now, and I love the place
And someday soon we can get to space
And though I'm white and poor and cold
It's better now than in days of old

The more of us work to set things right
Bright candles burning against the night
Unlike, together, a paradox
And hope, the last thing in every box.

Sponsored by my incredible patrons on Patreon, who are so awesome they pay me to do what I was doing anyway for free, like a model of a better future only right now and real.
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