For the Many ~ Golden Shovel ~ with audio

MTB: endings / beginnings, the prompt from Peter Frankis at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, asks us to write a poem while considering endings, with a suggestion to write a Golden Shovel poem.  Per Introduction: The Golden Shovel, by Don Share at Poetry Foundation, “The last words of each line in a Golden Shovel poem are, in order, words from a line or lines taken often, but not invariably, from a Brooks poem.”  This was first done by Terrance Hayes in homage to Gwendolyn Brooks, with his poem The Golden Shovel.  This, my first Golden Shovel, was inspired by Infirm, by Gwendolyn Brooks, found here.


For the Many

One class, one caste to include everybody.
None are immune here.
This disease that plagues us today is
intent on adding to the infirm.

One class, one caste to include everybody.
None are immune here.
Your failure to recognize this is
sure to take a toll on the infirm.

You say you have survived, but oh,
some are not so quick to mend.
You may scoff at what I say, ridicule me,
but some will never mend.
It could have been you. It may be me.
This does not make you better, a lord.

I read the signs, the news today,
and understand I am one of many, that I
am exposed when you say
you have no need to fear, to
take caution, that you are not one of them.

Despite what you say,
you, too, are of the many. Others act to
protect their fellows, protect them
with no thought to say
they cannot be troubled, to
act as though they care not for them.

For they do, with no thought to lord
it over the many.  Their desire to look
out for their fellow man, you and I,
is a sign that you are, that I am,
valued, and that is beautiful.

When the common and the beautiful
are seen as equal and viewed with
compassion, that is when my
true respect for others takes wing.

Our strength rises when that
understanding of equality is
wedded with a desire to spare the wounded.

There should be no “my,”
only “our.” When we see eye to eye,
when we come to realize that
the key to our survival is
best served when the many are bonded,
we will prevail. That, or

suffer the loss of my
sister or your mother, a deaf ear
turned to the grief that will not
serve sentiments funded
towards the consideration of others, or
even ourselves. Your regard for my
well-being should come unbidden. We walk
the same path. A beginning. An end. All
else may differ, but all else is a-wobble.

All is insanity, to think that I’m
insignificant to you, little enough
to trouble your mind, to
mask your pretension of superiority. Be
more than that. Be beautiful.

Let the world see that in you.
Join those who believe that others are
no less than beautiful.
Be one who thinks of others, too.

As a side note, this may be the longest poem I’ve written.

39 thoughts on “For the Many ~ Golden Shovel ~ with audio

  1. For a ‘first’ this is pretty polished stuff Ken, and Brooks’ poem is a great choice. I so enjoyed hearing your reading too. You may have intended this a diatribe to your soon to be ex-President – but I read it as a call out to all those who can’t see that this path we’re on, we’re (literally) all on (and we’ve got a bunch here in Australia too). As you say – ‘All else may differ, but all else is a-wobble’.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As Peter said, a very polished first golden shovel poem. I feel the same way–and I just don’t understand the people who don’t. I won’t start on my own rant!

    As you were reading, I imagined this as an animated video with your voice narrating it. A project for you over the holidays. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A true message of goodwill, coming just at the right time. If only those ‘at the top’ could see things this way. But really, it starts with the rest of us, and maybe those on the top ought to be toppled.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve laid out your position so reasonably, enunciated and emphasized so well, who could argue. I fear you are preaching to the choir, but that’s ok. Great job on your first golden shovel and your longest poem to date.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a beautiful poem Ken, and you read it so lovingly, We are all bound together in so many ways, best to be bound by love and concern that comes from a wellspring, rather than to be bound by imperatives of mutual survival, even though both are important. For me there is always a tension between those two axes, between the collective good and the needs of the individual. I feel that tension more in the universal circumstance, not in the precise moment of those who will not mask up (the allusion brought out subtly in your line-

    “to mask your pretension of superiority.’

    It should be clear and obvious on the imperatives of kindness, love, and concern, that we should mask up and protect one another, what a commentary on where we are that this is not obvious, but perhaps it has always been like this somehow, just we have not often lived at a time when that essential virtue can be worn out so clearly on one’s face. But beyond the boundaries of this moment, the tension between the collective and the individual is real. I take gentle issue with your declarative

    “There should be no “my,”
    only “our.”

    If there truly is never any “my,” we become just part of the wheel of space, less conscious, less feeling, more like ants, or Star Trek’s Borg. On the other hand the “my” can be taken too far. Ayn Rand’s extreme reaction to authoritarian socialism that taught the suppression of individualism to the state caused her to posit that the only true source of life arises from the needs and vigor of the individual, that this is the true “Fountainhead” of all that is true and beautiful and alive. She wrote about this powerfully in her novel “The Fountainhead,” and she just about roped me in, but her hero turns out to use his vigor to become violent and manipulative- even becomes a rapist whose victim is supposed to afterward fall in love with him, and Rand unapologetically weaves a tale that this all powerful and beautiful when in fact it is disgusting. So the answer I believe lies in a balance, which is actually woven nicely throughout your poem, that how lovely it is that our bonds might rise out of concern and compassion for one another, and not just out of the transactional interstices of joint survival. This was a tension for me in trying to find a balance to the bonds (as I saw them) to my loved ones in my life which were coming at the expense of my own well-being (my need to transition to my valid gender role and body which appeared to me for decades to be incompatible with the well-being of my loved ones). But in the end I realized that I had to take care of myself, and commit to live according to my needs, but to try to maintain the kindness and compassion for how this effects others, because since we are all bound, if I were to not survive, or even not be able to thrive, I eventually came to realize that this would be worse for my loved ones, and not just be worse for myself. So this little mask we either wear, or don’t, does say so much about what we woe to each other doesn’t it? but hopefully with proper balance to what we owe to ourselves. I actually was brought back to my poem “Dear Consequence” in thinking about your poem, I am masking (believe me- we all know the science is strong). One final side note, this is a long poem, but the size is just right, but if we had to lose the entire poem and let it dissipate without all the context and subtext and imagery, it’s vital heart would survive if only the following lines were all we had, I truly love them:

    “We walk
    the same path. A beginning. An end. All
    else may differ, but all else is a-wobble.”

    So well done. Thank you for this! Lona.

    Liked by 1 person

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