Poem for a World BEYOND War

By Michelle Vong, World BEYOND War, January 31, 2024

Michelle Vong is 2023 Oakland Youth Poet Vice Laureate. She recited this poem at a World BEYOND War event in Oakland, California, on January 28, 2024.

“Money for the poor, not war.” – Tupac

my great grandmother was
the lovechild of
unlikely odds
and favorable gods,

born in the midst
of bombs and bullets,
this daughter
was not supposed
to survive such a
torn and brutal
beginning,

yet war and violence
were not woven
into her flesh or dna

you see
all my life
i’ve been told that
war is a part of humanity,
that it is natural,
inevitable,
yet i have been fed
unnatural to
reason with the
proclaimed “natural”

i’ve been fed
glorified tales of war,
stories of camo
dressed heroes
and brothers of
liberty and independence

while
camo retired veterans
and brothers born of war
are not fed at all.

in history class
i was taught that
war is necessary
to grow
a nation,

but how do you
teach that to
a mother
whose son will never
be able to grow at all?

in books and movies
i have watched as
they burnt bridges
and destroyed and
killed enemies
for love.

but if love is supposed to
fought for like a war,
then i don’t want to love.

because to love
is to create,
not take.

all wars do is take,
take families
take children
take homes
take flesh
take blood
take generations
take future doctors
future poets
future engineers

america all you do is take,
take brothers
Make soldiers
take sisters
make martyrs
take lovers
make bones
take dollars
make drones

america when will you create
life without bloodshed?
create families
create children
create homes
create flesh
create blood
create generations
create future doctors
future poets
future engineers

america i know you can be beautiful,
your spring has been kind to me before,
i’ve been wooed by your
poppies and roses that have been
plucked from colorful gardens.
but i cannot admire a garden
planted with bloodied soil.
america i know you can be beautiful,
i have danced to your
ballads and serenades before.
but i won’t dance to
your war drum if
its beat is lifeless
i won’t dance to your
drum unless
it starts taking lives less

america, i know you can be beautiful,
so please be beautiful today.

3 Responses

  1. War is insanity for ALL Humanity ‼️We must work for Justice and Truth and silence the drums of evil that perpetuate hate and violence. We pray God’s mercy for those who perpetuate this evil. Love and peace are the fruits of God’s desire to create a world where ALL people live in harmony and PEACE … often termed as God’s Great Intention❣️Join in praying for peace in the minds and hearts of all people ♥️✝️🕊️

  2. Thank you for your poem, Michelle. It is very moving. I read that you believe that poetry is a tool that “can shed light on pressing issues that require attention.” I believe that art and music can do the same, and that words and actions of ordinary people can make a difference, especially when there are many of us. Ordinary people need to know what other ordinary people are thinking and doing, such as the ongoing rallies throughout the world against the current war in Gaza – as well as other wars at other times.

    1. Thank you wbw for this event, “creating peace” (not war) by making poems…
      There are a lot of possibilities for “healing the world” by art, poems, music… culture.
      Because all people need art+culture to live in peace.
      that prevents against war more than money.
      And people like to have art+culture.
      you can see that everywhere in the world.
      people create peace, while singing and dancing – even with pop-songs like:
      “all you need is love”, “imagine”, “you raise me up”…
      why not using them for peace parties?
      Forget about blaming the powerpeople,
      invite them to sing+dance with the peacepeople.
      That can change – more than money, weapons, victory

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