to be whole (a collective poem from detroit center for whole communities gathering)

detroit-based alumni of the center for whole communities programs came together today to dialogue and share awareness practices. one thing we have done is gathered thoughts during the dialogues into a poem structure. here is the poem that emerged in response to the questions ‘what do we need in our work? what do we need to feel whole?’

the work will get weird in these lean times
like minds want to move out of lockstep alignment
to be our whole selves we have to climb out of the
small box of our righteousness
the anxiety of staying on our linear paths
the crisis of self
the stagnation
the resilience that holds what is though it must go
let go of the cynic inside
let go of the bully who must win
relinquish the uniform
close the book on institutions
don’t speak what they taught you
shed the skin

we must forgive ourselves for all we do not know
we are the animators
we must bring the light
walk by in this world together
talk at more depth
let go of this frenetic activism – it doesn’t work
we need to waste time with each other
how do you come, how do you go?

the universe nurtures me
the creativity of the 13.8 billion year old story
the planet, our teacher, says
learn wonder
we are frozen to each other
what is the spring of the soul?
the seed is still there

what will the child think of my life?
the protest politic depresses me
i long for the art of the elephant
for the cosmos
‘we are all star stuff’
i am not impossible
see – i need what you need, want what you want
and i can carry on
rooted and nurtured
affirmed in community with others
redemption is collective
‘we don’t only inherit land from our ancestors,
we borrow it also from our children’

breathing into this moment in context
with emotional and spiritual agency
risk inside of love
we can remember: being is an act of resistance
we imagined these zoos
now is the time to bring courage and grace
to necessary failures
upending our hows
our hows which undo our peace
if we can release,
what can evolve?

more chapters.

– jan 29, 2014
detroit
by gloria rivera, gloria lowe, shane bernardo, adela nieves, patrick crouch, diana copeland, ginny mcginn, michelle martinez, adrienne maree brown

2 Responses to “to be whole (a collective poem from detroit center for whole communities gathering)”


  1. 1 Becca Krantz

    Hi, Adrienne,
    Don & I are hosting an Art of Change reunion in Berkeley sometime in Feb. — any chance you’ll be out here? (we’re visiting for a month). If so send me an email, and we’ll send you the doodle.
    Love,
    Becca Krantz

  2. 2 gussy

    thank you for this poem. earlier today i had a moment with a friend that flew back into my memory as i read this poem. we were talking about making things etc or the jealousy of others being productive, and i just told them existing is productivity. i glanced at this poem at first and i saw the line “we can remember: being is an act of resistance” and thought yes and i knew i needed to read the poem as a whole. so i love this poem at this moment, at this time.

Leave a Reply