The Other Side Of America

I can see you coming
out of yourself
without moving—
a kettle at its limit
pieces of ivy harshly
separated from a taut,
invisible vine.

nowhere to be found but here.

I can see your unsettled mystery
sharing time with familiar morsels
washing yourself clean of stationary thoughts
away with the simple entrance, exit
of night and day.

how nothing can hide from itself for too long.
(especially when it lives on the other side of the mind)

blame who you ask
a. those who place a monopoly on suffering
b. those who create their own identities based on hating the other
c. those who have spent years ignoring the obvious truth

teachers professing a dream available to few
a nightmare on the other side of blue.

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About Kate Houck

Educator. Human. Poet. Seeking truth through experience.
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16 Responses to The Other Side Of America

  1. reocochran says:

    Yes, I see change needed by those who could help America to become more caring country and stronger, Kate.

  2. Hi Kate, the language and tension in this poem are provocative, so I want to ask you more. Can you explain a little more about the speaker of the poem?

    • Kate Houck says:

      Hi Cheryl,

      Thanks for asking. As I reflect back on it, I think I’m speaking to the upper-middle class (mostly white) Americans who are surprised by the rise of Trump. Towards the end, when I ask who is to blame for our country heading in this direction, I wonder if they are really the ones to blame, the ones who have ignored the hate that others have endured here for centuries. They are (c) while the Trump supporters are (a) and (b).

      I’ve had a lot on my mind after reading Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me. Especially as a teacher, I’m reflecting on all the hypocrisy embodied in our curriculum and how it serves to perpetuate the system of inequality.

      Kate

  3. Powerful work, Kate, important and necessary. Thank you for sharing it.

  4. 5h2o says:

    The opening of this poem is so powerful, and then you unwind it very well. Nicely done.

  5. sanberdooboy says:

    For me this line is so true: “how nothing can hide from itself for too long.” Absolutely we see the result of so much hiding.” In a reply above you reference Coates who is having so much impact now. When I was in college in 1962 I read James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, a brilliant, electric work that should’ve changed America. Unfortunately, it still resonates.

    • Kate Houck says:

      It is unfortunate. Possibly it’s connected to the difference between the readers and the doers. So many have read Baldwin and now Coates but people don’t take the lessons embedded in these important works and disseminate new awareness into their daily lives. I think it’s even to the point where people are scared to talk about these things for fear of being judged as too emotional or angry. It’s obvious, based on where we are now, that these conversations NEED to be had for the sake of us all and our future. Nothing can hide from itself for too long 🙂

  6. Ray Sharp says:

    Beautiful, timely. Good poem! I really admire your writing and ideas. Also like your experimentation with form. And the final rhyming couplet

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