This was written for One Single Impression Prompt #38, Courage. It is not so much a poem, but a personal statement, written as a reaction to some things I’ve encountered at work. You don’t have to agree, but all I ask is that you read….and think.


I know that there are lines, and they cut through me. I know that there are armies, and they march across my heart. I know that there are loud cacophonies of protests and do-right demands and endless rah-rah-rah cheerleading to rouse up fear and loathing of imagined or created enemies – and I find myself responding with silence. And I am repulsed at my own desire to hide in the darkness of silent assent.

Which side of the line are you on?

I am asked this question day in and day out with loud words and louder stares. Forwarded e-mails. Unspoken assumptions that I agree with them, simply because I am too afraid to declare the line useless, null and void, a knife cutting through the heart of this country I love. A line I’m supposed to be on one side of. A line that tells me that I’m supposed to look through binoculars of mistrust and paranoia simply because she wears a hijab or he refuses to eat pork.

Which side of the line are you on?

I have no desire to play the “whose God is bigger than whose” game. I have no desire to pick up verbal arms and slay souls simply because they call out to a different soul, a different name in the vast azure expanses above us. I have no desire to shoot barbs with lips, teeth, tongue, fingers, fists, or feet.

Which side of the line are you on?

I know that in the end, I cannot betray my heart. I cannot, by remaining silent, let it hang out to dry and flap in the wind on clotheslines of shared communal hatred just to avoid incurring shared communal abhorrence, lest I become brittle with envy, want, and rage – the kind that bubbles up and tries to burn acid tears into your eyes but fails, resulting only in a pathetic campfire whimper of the soul. Brittle because of the silence I chose to cram into my mouth to avoid being a single, vibrant tree of spectral rainbows in a land of withered, nightmarish stalks.

Which side of the line are you on?

I am on the side of LOVE. I am on the side of FORGIVENESS. I am on the side of PEACE.

Because I remember a time when I stood alone, a brown soul amongst both lighter tones, burnt to a crisp black, buffeted by wind-blown verbal fires, slurs, and dirty looks. I remember twisting and screaming inside silent Hells, pulling abuse upon my back and heart for daring to talk of the girl I loved in the same breath as others would talk of the boys they loved. I remember incurring abuse for being the sore thumb…the girl who would not step in line…the freak.

So in the end, I know that I must once again stand alone, stand apart, stand as a traitor for reaching out a hand to link with shadows of their boogeymen, for refusing to ignite a fire of hatred in my heart to join with others to create a raging wall of Hell that will destroy us all.

Because those boogeymen, those shadows, those talked-up enemies…are fragile, human. Like me.

Like you.

So the next time you consider the line before you, ask yourself if you truly believe in that line. Ask yourself if you are comfortable with being cleaved asunder by joining in discordant tones with someone else’s choir of bigotry and ignorance.

Ask yourself…if that line even needs to be there in the first place.

Written 11/13/08
© 2008 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.

Stumble It!
Stumble It!


About ravenswingpoetry

I am a 38 year old writer from Columbus, OH and the creator of Raven's Wing Poetry. I am a poet, seeker, fellow traveler, and autistic.
This entry was posted in Feelings, Poems, Prompt Poems and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Lines

  1. vinayakah says:

    Nice post, thanks for it!

    If everyone would make the test here, what would be the results? Would someone say openly he is on the wrong side? No, no one would…. Than we must ask, where is it comming from, all that mess, all that hell we create, if no one wants to be on the wrong side?!

    Only the one, having the peace inside, can share it and spread it, everything else are myths of talks.

  2. SandyCarlson says:

    I hear you on this one. I always wonder why, when I receive a forwarded email, the sender thinks for one moment that I agree with his point of view. That’s frightening! This was thought-provoking. Thanks.

  3. sue says:

    very poetic prose, and very courageous. Your thoughts remind me of an excellent movie from the 1950’s “Gentleman’s Agreement” which was about the tacit approval by silence in the presence of bigotry.

  4. So well said. In the past year or so I’ve received emails like the kind you refer to, to do with politics. Usually I didn’t respond, and sometimes deleted them unopened. But the most recent one I finally responded to. It was the line for me.

  5. going over that line can…be absolute freedom or absolute slavery, depending.

    thank you so much for this. it took a lot of courage to put it down, me thinks!

  6. my url is wrong on the last post–here it is, corrected

  7. Julie says:

    This is one of the better posts on the topic of courage that I have read this evening. You discuss cultural politics and you also discuss sexual choice. I admire what you say. There are parts where you go beyond where I am comfortable but that may be because you are much younger than I and have a different cultural background. But I admire your approach.

  8. beautifully written. i believe there is way too much line drawing in our culture right now & very little self-examination. kinda like that worry over the splinter in your brother’s eye focus when you have a plank in your own type of thing.

  9. Pam says:

    The use of words like cacophony lend themselves well to the feeling of the hateful emails entering the inbox with a slamming of the door. Well done.

  10. Tammy says:

    Powerful writing Nichole. I stand beside you against intolerance. Well done!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s