The Sunday Poem: Diane Thiel... Resistance Fantasies

It is so easy to feel disappointed and powerless in today's world. We dream of being more than that...a lot more. By the way, the last line of this poem will stay with you for a long, long time.

Diane Thiel is the author of nine books of poetry, nonfiction and creative writing pedagogy. Her work appears in many journals, is re-printed in over fifty anthologies, and has been translated widely. She has received numerous awards, such as a PEN Translation Award, the Robert Frost and Robinson Jeffers Awards, and was a Fulbright Scholar. Thiel has taught creative writing for over fifteen years and is a Professor at the University of New Mexico.

Resistance Fantasies

We like to think we would have been
Hans or Sophie Scholl, scattering
anti-Reich leaflets for our lives.

We like to think we would have given
our homes, our future children
for the safety of our neighbors.

We like to think we never could have owned slaves
or better still, that we were abolitionists.
We never would have paid a factory death wage.

We never would have sat at bulging tables
while the potato famine harvested the villages
or packed people into coffin ships.

We hear of every trail of tears:
The only good Indian is a dead Indian
How could the people come to that—solution?

And then we close our newspapers, somewhat
aware of what our investments might support,
disturbed to be reminded, in the news, or in a poem.

We might quietly recognize ourselves
when we hear that all it takes for evil
to triumph is for good people to do nothing

And yet go home to our lives and our Silence,
that true rough beast, hiding in the hole
of our full bellies

so easily convinced there is nothing
we can do. And each of us continues to dream
of having been willing to give anything

at that moment in history, of having been,
at the very least, an active resistor. We were all
the heroes in someone else’s war.

--Diane Thiel

Poetry submissions are welcome. Email

Views: 183

Comment by cathyray on September 19, 2010 at 8:57am
powerful message this morning
Comment by juniper berri on September 20, 2010 at 3:20am
Nice - and a remnant of Baudelaire, too. Villon? Well spoken, thank you.
Comment by bg on September 20, 2010 at 8:26am
In Berlin and Oslo, their ghosts are everywhere.
Comment by Margaret Randall on September 22, 2010 at 7:26am
This poem has been with me since Sunday, but because my daughter was visiting from Mexico I never got around to commenting on it. Nevertheless, I found a line or two would creep into my consciousness and stay there, singing its truth. This is one of the strongest poems the Ditchrider has published. I am grateful for it. I hope I get to hear the poet speak it in her own voice one of these days. Thank you!
Comment by Don McIver on September 26, 2010 at 12:07am
I'd say its more of being a hero when you have the benefit of hindsight. Its easy to be hero when you know how to respond...not so easy when you are actually living in that moment.
Comment by Merimee Moffitt on September 27, 2010 at 3:42am
A plainly staed poem , necessary here, as the denseness of us all is so overwhelmingly astonishingly guilty as charged. Thank you --good poem, a gentle call to "wake the fuck up!!!" Nicely done
Comment by Merimee Moffitt on September 27, 2010 at 3:47am
Diane is not asking for heroism but for the everyday labors towards justice and peace and survival--the buck lies here, peace starts in the heart, the Golden Rule, and our civic duty to speak out.


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