Iraq war protestors. Feb. 15, 2003

JFK Federal Building, Boston, March 2003

After days of drums, chanting, and frightened planning
we sit, quiet, on a scab of concrete,
blocking the spinning doors of war.
My animal eyes fix on the officer’s belt,
quick breath awaiting his orders to leave.
Dressed for war in a parka and black stocking cap,
bus fare, phone number scrawled on my arm,
I grip Wendell Berry’s green book of Sabbath
poems crushed deep inside my pocket.
Then the mad woman beside me screams
at the cops above us as they saunter toward us
and I pray as if hell were coming near
as they lift my body up from the sidewalk
and I’m borne on blue shoulders in a strange
slow motion like a whale pluming
down to the hole of the paddywagon
before the hurricane hits.

Alexander Levering Kern

Alexander (he/him) is a poet, editor, Quaker educator, university chaplain, and interfaith organizer. His work appears in publications such as Spiritus, About Place Journal, Georgetown Review, Soul-Lit, Spare Change News, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and in anthologies from Tiferet, Meridian, Pudding House, and Ibbetson Street. He is founding co-editor of Pensive: A Global Journal of Spirituality & the Arts ( based at Northeastern University, where he also serves as Executive Director of the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service. Editor of the anthology Becoming Fire: Spiritual Writing from Rising Generations, Alex has served and learned alongside communities around the world, including post-earthquake Haiti, post-apartheid South Africa, northern Nigeria, the Middle East, rural Honduras, Hiroshima, Brazil, Ferguson, Missouri, and the Arizona-Mexico borderlands.  His family makes their home in Somerville, Massachusetts and Chebeague Island, Maine, homelands of the Masachusett, Pawtucket, Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and Wabanaki peoples.

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