A poem by Marge Piercy on the importance of persistent action to effect political change.
Why do people get so discouraged
about political action? You take vitamin
pills and imagine they do something.
You don’t say, I’ll never wash dishes
again because they just get dirty.
We all mumble silly prayers
into the air, Oh please don’t let
me miss the plane, Oh please let
him call me back. We never count
times our wishes deflate as futile.
Inaction certainly will work fine
for the overlords who own our work,
control our lives, consider us
collateral loss in their grand schemes.
They only fear masses in motion.
A little at a time is the way forward
an unending dance two steps forward
and one and a half back. Sitting
on your ass too long just makes
you one. We’re only what we’ve tried.
Marge Piercy is the author of 18 poetry books, most recently Made in Detroit: Poems (Knopf, 2015). This poem was originally published in the Monthly Review. Subscribe here.