Written – 1/1/2002 – Poem – Strong Enough

This poem was written when I was relatively new to volunteering with the Black Prisoners’ Caucus at Washington State Reformatory.  It came out of my reaction to the part of prison culture where the men are forced to stuff emotions in order to be “tough” all the time – just to survive.   I understood why that was but still, I also knew that it takes great strength to do some of the things they considered to be “soft” and those things are part of being human.  I was sad to see them cut off from their own humanity. 
Strong enough to fight the right fight
Strong enough to rage in defiance
Strong enough to never be abused
Strong enough to present the right face
Strong enough to speak before hundreds of strangers
Strong enough to know who I am
Strong enough to earn respect
Strong enough to stand firm in my integrity
Strong enough to know what is mine
Strong enough to analyze every detail
Strong enough to be willing to teach
Strong enough dance with wild abandon
Strong enough to follow through with a plan
Strong enough to radiate health
Strong enough to move heavy objects
Strong enough to know who my friends are
Strong enough to show just the right amount of me
Strong enough to understand the rules
Strong enough to know my direct pathway
Strong enough to turn no into yes
Strong enough to know when to back down
Strong enough to wear used clothing
Strong enough to create
Strong enough to love unconditionally
Strong enough to be willing to trust
Strong enough to treat others with dignity
Strong enough to melt into oneness
Strong enough to not judge
Strong enough to be ready to learn
Strong enough to sit motionless in silence
Strong enough to risk being misused
Strong enough to accept defeat
Strong enough to ask for help
Strong enough to acknowledge doubts
Strong enough to whisper to one
Strong enough to shake with anticipation
Strong enough to reel in pain
Strong enough to sob in despair
 
Strong enough to be soft
Strong enough to be me!
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