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Saturday, June 13, 2020


by Jane Yolen and Peter Tacy



So, sit down on this stoop,
not that close,
I can hear you through your mask.
The words are familiar,
that hoarse enthusiasm,
your passion for the cause.
Even old legs can march,
though not run away.
Do you have your water bottle?
City map?
My cell phone number?
The lawyer’s?
I have yours.
the arc bends towards justice.
It’s not what we stand against.
It’s what we stand for.


I learned early—close to home;

What’s wrong—what we all know
To be wrong—can’t be accepted.

My grandmother said it:
Accepting doesn’t just mean
You agree, either; it means
You’ve done nothing to stop wrong.

Wrong, she said, is not static, or
Passive; its impulse is to grow,
To add mass and momentum.
So we have to stop wrong, she said.

If we don’t stop wrong, then
Wrong will grow like a cancer
And consume us all, even if we
Hate wrong. That’s what she said.

I’ve found ever since that she
Was right. So—when I see wrong,
I don’t just sit there. Like she said,
Good intentions don’t equal good.

But what she didn’t say, and I
Know now, is that fighting
Wrong doesn’t establish good.

You’ve got to let your living
Teach you good. Live with the pores
Of your soul, your empathy, open —

Your sense of wonder and awe
Open like a trawl-net, to find good.

And whenever you find some good,
Hide it in your heart.  Because with it
Hating wrong no longer equals hatred.
A miracle happens—and hate

Transmutes to love. My grandmother
Never said that to me; but now
I know she lived it. How? My grandkids
Have taught me—as I did her.


Or as I always said
to my kids
and grandkids:
Leave the world
a better place
than you found it.
Not so hard now.
Or maybe harder.
You dropped your inhaler.
I’ll help you stand.
It will be a long walk.
But we’re used to them.
And the company—
all those young people—
the best.
In case enthusiasm
distracts them,
we’re here to remind:
it’s not what we stand against,
but what we stand for
‘cause the arc of justice
doesn’t just bend itself, you know.

Jane Yolen is a Hatfield writer with over 389 books published. 10 of them books of adult poetry. Peter Tacy, Yiolen’s fiancé, lives both in Hatfield and Mystic Ct and has been an educator and writer/poet for most of his life.