Policy Innovations is pleased to announce the winners of its Spring 2009 Poetry Contest. The following five submissions, each from a different city, represent the inspiration we had hoped to spark with this contest. Thank you to all who participated! —Eds.
Ethics Is Back!
By William A. Douglas
International Ethics is back on the map,
My ethics course is filled to the cap.
The students today are not at all leery
Of using the concepts of old Just War Theory.
This student cohort's not driven by greed,
Their ideal is to help the poor people in need.
It's pleasing to see that in their years formative,
These students prefer an approach that is normative.
Today's students challenge all those who would teach them:
They've got the right goals—we must help them to reach them.
Douglas is a lecturer at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.
By Felisa Tibbitts
Satins, saffron powder, sandalwood paved the Silk Road
extending from China to Persia, meandering
through the sub-Saharan desert to Egypt and Europe.
This artery flowed for a millennium
the archetype for what was to come:
A latticework of telephone lines, broadband cables
propelling human kind towards one another.
This ceaseless journey, born of necessity
spurred on by curiosity
now a virtual platform in which we recognize ourselves in the other.
Tibbitts is director and co-founder of Human Rights Education Associates, based in Amsterdam.
Their Missing Text in the Unfinished Skyscrapers
By Victoria Wisniewski Otero
For some, globalization swallowed their lives, a big baleen whale that took in their entire ocean.
These men dressed in sandals and dust, scaling the construction scaffolds riskily under the desert sun
They are the tiniest capillaries of the economic crisis—they were always the smallest units of the chain.
big men who left their nowhere villages through a network of transnational agents passing them off.
The migrant labor to the GCC countries became the great baton race of the global economy
but they are truly the voiceless, not a genocide, not a humanitarian crisis, not anything spilling over to our edge.
The poetry in their story requires a squinting of the eyes, ears to the pavement, holding in a breath
to hear the muffled lifesong left behind in the trunks of the abandoned cars at the airport
to feel the bodyache bad posture of the old luggage slumped on the sidewalk
to see the loanshark lurking behind each eye inside each man made redundant
their wishes caught in wet concrete or pacing the construction cranes like stray cats unable to climb down
these little ants unload an unfinished skyscraper off their backs, clutching a plane ticket stub as they exit
for some, globalization is a about the wait—waiting for us to recognize them in these modern wonders.
Otero is a Kuwait-based blogger.
By Marion D. S. Dreyfus
for those long on days yet short on organ
stays there exists a nether market
where hope is tethered by cash
for rubbery vermilion-edged livers, hearts
harpooned by an accumuluum of savings
worth the withdrawal and clearing
the heart and innards of life's quick
translated into bank-balances
willingly tendered for years more years
weeks drag, months
fade to horizon's threshold
organs tempered by someone else's life,
not yet exhausted, their unexpired deck of years left in
the throb and pulse outside its berthing host
a gift of medicine and necromancy, medicaments
to short the reject, pharmaceuticals'
alchemic blessing even to the terror teacher, those who
cavalcade to Western majesties to pay oily gold for
the firefly-hope gurgle of gut or corneal transplant
a good-grisly harvest oft borne of mishap, swift-
ferried in immaculate organ plastic, received with
tagging extended despond of slowly sapping seconds
so. many. seasons.
moving by micro-tick up The List of
waiters, lending grace to Heaven if a believer, to
agnostic non-Deity if not
—but see, even the word is capped, as
we shrug off in headlong yesgasm our
yearning half-pagan belief, foxholing without a backward rue
(yes, we are less unbelievers than we believe)
Dreyfus is a New York-based medical writer. (marion ds dreyfus 20©09)
By Sylva Portoian
Is real wintry day—January.
The sun prevails, wintery rays.
Clouds watching the moments
Were waiting since decades.
Something in sky changed.
For something extraordinary.
State in credit crunch.
Yet everyone insists to stay happy.
It is their wanted day.
Exhaling accumulated pains
Of the past centuries
When populace wants
Nothing means impossible.
The events should respond
As populace lathed oat.
It's populace day, humans' right day.
They reached to smash the genes of tyranny.
Optimistic cohorts augmented to teach dark spirits,
That no one is born to accept slavery.
Each mother birthed spirit
Bearing months in a small space
Then …Wants her beloved to breathe clean air,
Playing, rhyming, dancing in liberty.
Portoian is an Armenia-based pediatrician.