Poem from Raymond Nat Turner: “Valedictorian”

March 10th, 2017


“Instruction in youth is like engraving in stone”

“Did you say I’ve got a lot to learn
Well don’t think I’m trying not to learn
Since this is a perfect spot to learn—
—“Teach Me Tonight” Sammy Cahn

Can strings push?
Can sticks pull?
Is water wet?
Is fat meat greasy?
Are big lies alternative facts?
Can warmongers win peace prizes?
Are Mothers older than daughters?
If you die, do you come back the next day?

We wake with watch hands
Saying different things—yet
Saying nothing untrue at 9
At 10, 11, ‘Round Midnight
Or, 4 in the morning:
Our Valedictorian checked out,
Crossing crimson curtains,
Slipping through silken membrane
Into sacred Ancestral spaces—
But never quietly into the night!

nickel-slick enemies know it’s
Her they’re hearing in creaking
floorboards, rustling drapes, leaves
Talking back beneath their boots and
Blistering cross-examination of cops

“Finding Paths, Forging Links In
Long ChainsOf Class Struggle
Making Mama Harriet Happy,
Never Bowing Down Or Sucking Up”
stellar seventy-seven page
Commencement Address delivered fortissimo
Amplifying power to the people

Flipping tassel, flinging mortarboard skyward—
signaling us to step up, strap on our balls, take
Mama Harriet hormones, speaking truth to

Entering from Tahrir Square,
Wisconsin’s State Capitol,
Zucotti Park, Oscar Grant Plaza…
colleges of class struggle

Signaling us to become
Distinguished Professors of
Lynne Stewart Studies, “unpacking”
“de-contextualizing” “contextualizing”
“intersectionalities” of class struggle—
Hard-wiring ourselves for happiness, joy, love:
Lives worth living

Signaling us to become
Distinguished Professors of
Lynne Stewart Studies—
Shameless agitators having Yes Men fun,
Dancing in the street to Brass Liberation Orchestras;
Single-payer ju-ju workers hot on socialism’s trail;
Anonymous, Wikileak workers speaking truth to

Lynne Stewart Scholars come matriculate:
Come agitate, come with love trumping hate
Come educate with fierce, scorching debate
Come quickly, blowing whistles on ______ gate
Come shredding scribblers who obfuscate
For we know we can win
With readers like Lynne
With leaders like Lynne
We know we can win
With writers like Lynne
With fighters like Lynne
We know we can win
With lawyers like Lynne
With warriors like Lynne!

Raymond Nat Turner © 2017 All Rights Reserved

Thanks to the generous support of Resist, Inc. - Funding social change since 1967.