Poem – If I was President – Alice Walker

If I was President

 The first thing I would do 

is call Mumia Abu-Jamal. 

No, 

if I was president 

the first thing I would do 

is call Leonard Peltier. 

No, 

if I was president 

the first person I would call 

is that rascal 

John Trudell. 

No, 

the first person I’d call 

is that other rascal 

Dennis Banks. 

I would also call 

Alice Walker. 

I would make a conference call. 

And I would say this: 

Yo, you troublemakers, 

it is time to let all of us 

out of prison. 

Pack up your things: 

Dennis and John, 

collect Alice Walker 

If you can find her: 

In Mendocino, Molokai, Mexico or 

Gaza, 

& head out to the prisons 

where Mumia and Leonard 

are waiting for you. 

They will be traveling 

light. 

Mumia used to own a lot 

of papers 

but they took most of those 

away from him. 

Leonard 

will probably want to drag along 

some of his 

canvases. 

Alice 

who may well be 

shopping 

in New Delhi 

will no doubt want to 

dress up for the occasion 

in a sparkly shalwar kemeez. 

My next call is going to be 

to the Cubans 

all five of them; 

so stop worrying. 

For now, you’re my fish. 

I just had this long letter 

from Alice and she has begged me 

to put an end 

to her suffering. 

What? she said. 

You think these men are the only ones who suffer 

when Old Style America locks them up 

& throws away 

the key? 

I can’t tell you, she goes on, 

the changes 

this viciousness 

has put me through, 

and I have had a child to raise 

& classes to teach 

& food to buy 

and just because 

I’m a poet 

it doesn’t mean 

I don’t have to 

pay the mortgage 

or the rent. 

Yet all these years, 

nearly thirty or something 

of them 

I have been running around 

the country 

and the world 

trying to arouse justice 

for these men. 

Tonsillitis 

hasn’t stopped me. 

Migraine, 

hasn’t stopped me. 

Lyme disease 

hasn’t stopped me. 

And why? 

Because 

knowing the country 

that I’m in, 

as you are destined to learn 

it too, 

I know wrong 

when I see it. 

If that chair you’re sitting in 

could speak 

you would have it moved 

to another room. 

You would burn it. 

So, amigos, 

pack your things. 

Alice and John and Dennis 

are on their way. 

They are bringing prayers from Nilak Butler and Bill Wapepah; 

they are bringing sweet grass and white sage 

from Pine Ridge. 

I am the president 

at least until the Corporations 

purchase the next election, 

and this is what I choose 

to do 

on my first day.

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