Archive for Thursday, July 21, 2011

Poem by poet laureate of Kansas centers on closure of Lawrence SRS office

July 21, 2011


The Moment It Happened

Later she would say it was a miracle.

Afterward he would tell friends it happened just in time.

Someone answered the phone. Someone took her seriously.

Someone made sure he got help immediately.

Someone called her back from the ledge or found him

a place to stay, a hot meal, a ride to the hospital

the moment the world fell apart.

Do you think these things happen by accident?

Do you think they can be exported or computerized,

swept out of town, or sorted by zip code into oblivion?

Someone needs to be in the office the morning he comes in,

fresh out of jail with only a pebble of hope in his pocket.

Someone needs to call the authorities and

someone needs to be the authority called

for the 6-year-old boy found scared in the field,

the 96-year-old woman with no one left to help her fill out the forms,

the new bride who drove herself to the hospital with a fractured arm

and marriage, and the man who was too afraid to ask for help.

This is not the story of welfare generations,

lazing on apartment terraces while the rest of us pay taxes.

This is not the story of freeloaders buying steak with foodstamps.

This is not even the story of whether there are mistakes or delays.

This is about the young man finally able to hire his own caregivers,

the child afraid to leave her alcoholic mom, the couple trapped

in overbearing pain and poverty, the man terrified to tell

what happened to him. This is the story of a woman

wheeling herself over the threshold to remind us

that in this country, this Kansas we don’t sacrifice children.

We don’t sacrifice each other. We reach into our pockets,

we figure out ways to make something out of nothing,

we open our arms, we cradle the hurt, and we rock to sleep the weary,

recognizing in their eyes the moment our own world fell apart,

and how someone was able to make all the difference

by the simple miracle of being there.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, poet laureate of Kansas

The planned closure of the state welfare office in Lawrence has become the subject of a poem by the poet laureate of Kansas, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg.

“We don’t sacrifice each other,” Mirriam-Goldberg says in the poem. “We reach into our pockets, we figure out ways to make something out of nothing, we open our arms, we cradle the hurt, and we rock to sleep the weary, recognizing in their eyes the moment our own world fell apart, and how someone was able to make all the difference by the simple miracle of being there.”

In an interview Wednesday, Mirriam-Goldberg, of Lawrence, said she doesn’t believe Gov. Sam Brownback will read the poem, “The Moment It Happened,” and change his mind about closing the Lawrence office of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

But, she said, one of the jobs of a poet laureate “is to give voice to what fellow Kansans believe.”

She added, “I believe no matter what a person’s political affiliation, if we were to take a poll, I can’t imagine most people would support closing an SRS office as large as the one in Lawrence without any governmental process involving the key stakeholders.”

She wrote her poem after a community meeting that drew an estimated 700 people last week at Plymouth Congregational Church. She read it at a rally Saturday at South Park, posted it on her blog and, now, it has more than 1,000 hits.

Mirriam-Goldberg’s job as poet laureate is in limbo. She was appointed two years ago to a three-year term by the Kansas Arts Commission. The poet laureate receives a $2,500-a-year stipend to hold various events and workshops. Brownback, however, vetoed funding for the Arts Commission.


Dan Blomgren 6 years, 9 months ago

You can spew all the 'feel good' sentiment you want, but what it comes down to are the dollars. Our politicians have dug us in such a big hole that we have no choice but make tough decisions. If you feel so strongly about it, write a check out of your own account. Put your money where your mouth is, otherwise you are just blowing hot air.

Sally Piller 6 years, 9 months ago

False! Kansas can well afford SRS and is putting its money on things like closing down Planned Parenthood, marriage promotion and Flint Hills tourism. The Republican line about the Kansas budget is what is hot air. We are NOT in a deep hole at all! This is all about ideology. They are claiming to save around $400 grand on this, about the size of an average house in Johnson County. Caryn is a Kansas treasure.

voevoda 6 years, 9 months ago

If the 3000 richest Kansas paid a mere $100 extra on their taxes--money they'd never miss!--the Lawrence SRS office could be preserved intact. While the deficits go up and ordinary Americans are doing without, the rich just get richer, thanks to the huge tax breaks they were handed under the Bush administration. The rich were supposed to reinvest that money in jobs here in the US or in charitable contributions, but instead they outsourced jobs abroad and spent their surplus on conspicuous consumption of foreign goods.
As for Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, penny4mythoughts, I know for a fact that she donates very generously, even though she's not rich and she no longer earns a salary at Kansas poet-laureate. Your comment is mean-spirited; it presents you in a bad light. Surely you don't want to come across on the Web as a cheapskate!

northtowngrl 6 years, 9 months ago

Since we seem to have money to spare for high priced attorneys and tax breaks to the already wealthy, not to mention spending almost the EXACT amount of money saved by closing the Lawrence SRS on the hiring of out of state, ultra christian new staff (where's that separation of church and state again?) you seem to be very very wrong. ...Thanks though for your penny and your thoughts. You can keep the change.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 9 months ago

Given Brownback's behavior to this point, Ms. Goldberg will not be poet-laureate much longer.

Don't go against the family....

I like Paul Getto's moniker for Brownback more and more. Muscular Sam.

Brownback is both a muscle mystic and a spirit mystic, in the parlance of the beloved Ms. Rand.

james bush 6 years, 9 months ago

Methinks she complaineth too much..................... possibly her political affiliation or social affliction: liberalism. And she's protesting her own and the Arts Commission defunding.

Sally Piller 6 years, 9 months ago

Did you even read the poem? She is complaining about the closing of our SRS and the lack of compassion in Kansas government. It has nothing to do with the Arts Commission. Jim are you so isolated out there in the country that you can't see all the people in need and that private charities are overwhelmed? Open your eyes.

Liberty275 6 years, 9 months ago

Speaking of poets...

Somewhere there are still peoples and herds, but not with us, my brethren: here there are states.

A state? What is that? Well! open now your ears unto me, for now will I say unto you my word concerning the death of peoples.

A state, is called the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly lieth it also; and this lie creepeth from its mouth: "I, the state, am the people."

It is a lie! Creators were they who created peoples, and hung a faith and a love over them: thus they served life.

Destroyers, are they who lay snares for many, and call it the state: they hang a sword and a hundred cravings over them.

Where there is still a people, there the state is not understood, but hated as the evil eye, and as sin against laws and customs.

ChangeIntheWind 6 years, 9 months ago

Thank you Caryn for your caring and thoughtful words. You are chronicling a sinister change that is disguised in political rhetoric. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.