Let the Artists Win

I vote we let the artists win
the ones covered in paint from their last attempt
to smuggle across the beauty of a bowl of fruit
the 14-year-old rapper learning to spit
throwing life's chaos on the rhythm wheel
uncovering the shapes that live on after the next break

I say we let the food bank volunteers win
the ones always carrying around their agenda
for the meeting, waging campaigns
to stock shelves with bread

I would like to see the nurses extend their string of victories
from the hospital bed to the nation's boardrooms
until we care for each other as if death
were inevitable and mercy was the only thing
that made the rounds bearable

I say we let the kindergarten teachers win
as they raise up small edifices
for the beauty words
will never capture or reveal

Maybe even let the helpless drunkard win sometimes,
when she cries into her beer
and declares it's all too much

I will let the grandmothers win
when they tell the old stories
that hold me in their keeping

And the children yelling
play! play! The ones who have already cost us so much
of our final productivity
the only tyrants who can command
the true attention of the wise
I want them to win too
again and again
without pity

and then when the men with guns come
we can say I'm sorry
but whether you win or lose
it's really never been my game sir
I have lost
and lost again a thousand wars of the heart
and those to whom I have waved the white flag
those to whom
I have surrendered
the whole and holy of my life
will never
let me go

a small child's hands, clasped, with patches of red, yellow, and blue paint
A nurse with a swaddled newborn baby cradled in her lap