All rights to all poems belong to Joan Dobbie

I am not as politically active, nor charitably generous, as I feel I ought to be. This is a gross understatement. More often than not, I’ve missed those great moments in history, though I lived through them. I didn’t March in Selma, or ever during the 60’s find myself on a train heading South. Except for one seminal month in Florida in the mid-70’s, I’ve never been to the Southern U.S.

On the night MLK was killed, I was at UCONN Connecticut, partying with my Biafran boyfriend, Austin and his African friends. I was the only white person in the group when we heard. We said, “Oh, how sad. Those Americans.” We all had, as I remember it, a good time that night. It was on Austin’s behalf that in 1968 I spent one afternoon packing up food for Biafra. And, by some miracle for which I will remain forever grateful, I did attend the original Woodstock in 1969.

During the early 70’s I attended one anti-nuclear march in Washington, because my friends were going, and another in NYC around 1978, because my mother had organized a Northern New York contingency to go. Also, during the 70’s, I marched a few times against the Power Authority of the State of New York (PASNY) that was forcing a huge 765 power line through our rural area. I am not proud of the fact that I personally had accepted their small bribe for access rights through my own land.

In 1984, having recently moved to the west coast, one August evening, I attended a Hiroshima/Nagasaki Memorial gathering in Eugene, Oregon. In 1988 I published a chapbook, MOTHER EARTH TAKES TO SMOKING, which focussed on my anti-war feelings and sense of a larger self in society.

In 1991, I did march against the first Iraq invastion. In 2001, I was shocked like the rest of the world when the World Trade Center went down. For some months I ate Zoloft.

More recently, I gave maybe a few cents to Tsunami Victims in Indonesia. I donated all of one dollar to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Before the 2006 election I spent all of two afternoons making phone calls on behalf of the Democratic Party. I took one elderly friend to the electon center and got her vote in. I have a peace sign in front of my house.

I’ve become used, over the years, to considering myself too poor to donate to causes. Truth is, I have just not gotten into the habit of making charitable contributions. This is a thing I am planning to change. Call it my New Year’s Resolution 2007. (I do, light permitting, give quarters, and sometimes dollar bills to street corner panhandlers. I know it's a hard, unrewarding job.)

And, over the years I have written a few poems of social conscience. These I will share with you now. Click on the links to the right for some poems of social conscience.


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