Rock the Boat

Photo by Diego Catto

Go ahead, rock the boat.
Rock it with your words.
Rock it with your body, side to side.
Rock it with your heart that can’t take another slice
of American apple pie.

Rock it with your mind, front to back.
Rock the boat but hold onto your hat.
Rock the boat and hold your babies close.
Rock the boat and know the people who don’t throw you a rope
were never really your people.

Rock the boat and be ready to hear the truth
of what some people will say and do
to secure their place, to stay what they call safe.

Rock the boat and watch as a thousand gulls dive
for scraps.
Rock the boat while some make money on your bruised back.
Rock the boat and listen for blame.
(You shouldn’t have been in that boat to begin with, young lady. For shame.)

Rock the boat and stay when it gets really scary,
when you’re wondering if maybe you could crawl over
to that handsome clipper on a horizon.
Rock the boat and remember all the people who drowned.
All the bodies thrown over.
All the ones who didn’t have a chance.
All the voices that fly on wind like an avalanche of haunting song in your ears.
Rock the boat to the rhythm of their memory.
Rock the boat to the poetry of their silence.

Rock the boat for the ones who are too weak to rock,
too sick too tired too busy staying alive.
Rock the boat in every season .
Rock the boat and rock it harder
when someone tells you to stop,
you’re making them feel uneasy.
Rock the boat but don’t take the credit
for the rocking someone else did
while you enjoyed a four-course meal
in the captain’s quarters.

Rock the boat and rock the boat and rock the boat.
Rock the boat — or start swimming.

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