Wild Poppies

Marilyn Buck

[This poem is read on the CD by Marilyn Buck. MP3 of this poem]

I remember red poppies, wild behind the school house
I didn’t want to be there, but I loved to watch the poppies

I used to sit in the window of my room, sketching charcoal trees
what happened to those magnolia trees, to that girl?

I went off to college, escaped my father’s thunderstorms
Berkeley. Rebellion. Exhilaration!

the Vietnam war, Black Power, Che took me to Chicago
midnight lights under Wacker Dr. Uptown. South Side. Slapped
by self-determination for taking Freedom Wall photos
      without asking

on to California, driving at 3:00 in the morning in the mountains,
I got it: what self-determination means
A daunting task for a young white woman, I was humbled

      practice is concrete … harder than crystal-dream concepts

San Francisco, on the front steps at Fulton St.
smoking reefer, drinking “bitterdog” with Black Panthers and white
hippie radicals, talking about when the revolution comes

the revolution did not come. Fred Bennett was missing
we learned he’d been found: ashes, bones, a wedding ring
but later there was Assata’s freedom smile

then I was captured, locked into a cell of sewer water
spirit deflated. I survived, carried on, glad to be
like a weed, a wild red poppy,
rooted in life

published in Rescue the Word
© 1999


poems © the authors
compilation © The Freedom Archives