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By James T. Stemmle

PROMPT—Privilege ...

just wondering about my white privilege

whether it’s needed to believe the universe

is friendly god loves everyone good beats

evil love beats hate life beats death wait

selah life lives with death and death always

wins fact of life what’s to fear of what shall

I be afraid the bird cage protects where the

covenant is you shall be my canary and I

will be your human I give security so you

have no more need to be nervous but I also

impose limits that may change your nature

a cage of commandments beyond which is

danger but I love you your beautiful shape

your song your body that flies my imagination

to freedom taking flight as my superpower

and here I look across from one portal of

divinity to another to you my pet who are still

a bird true to your nature within constraints

artificial if not arbitrary jumping your perches

you can still fly but if you escape it’s back to

chaos and danger scratching out a living life

it turns out is not binary slave or free life or

death but a mix a complexity two opposing

ideas both containing truth held in tension

hoping for all truth lusting after the complete

set both country and western chaos and order

free and constrained


James T. Stemmle is an old man, currently living retirement in WV with his wife. In warm weather, he writes poetry during morning meditations on a bench in his back yard, where, immersed in nature, it is so quiet that, depending on atmospheric conditions, he can sometimes hear interstate traffic four miles distant. He had a Federal Government career mostly with the EPA and has a doctorate from Catholic U in Chemistry. He is eager to share more of his accumulating poetry, currently enough to fill 7 one-inch binders and part of the 8th. He has published seventeen poems so far in several small literary magazines including: The Octillo Review, Evening Street Review, The Raven’s Perch, Deep South Magazine, Hektoen International (a journal of medical humanities), Literary Veganism, Choeofpleirn Press, Seattle Star, Poetry Superhighway, and Open Arts Forum. Born in Louisville, KY, James currently writes from Falling Waters, WV.


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