The Night I Didn’t Stand Up

The Night I Didn’t Stand Up

That rock concert in New Haven took me by surprise
and why – the national anthem and the crowd was ready.
As one, the many stood and hooted for the band.

I didn’t, a white girl whose knees knocked.
Angry under the videos of carpet bombing
of Cambodia, over-the-top, over-the edge saturation
killing in Cambodia. This was my country tis of thee.

I sat in protest. Forty years later a quarterback kneeled
with more courage than I had in that pot-smoke crowd.
I ducked when some guy yelled I should stand.
There are times when you can’t, when the wrong

is too great, and the great isn’t great enough. So when
Judge Ruth says it’s wrong not to stand but not illegal,
I know it can be right and the only thing you can do.
Better to let wrong drive you to your knees

than sit like a numb ass.


(from the recently published How I Learned to Be White now available from Antrim House )

About Tricia Knoll

Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet in the process of moving to Vermont. Her poetry appears widely in journals and anthologies and has received seven Pushcart nominations. Her collected poetry books include Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press), Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books), Broadfork Farm (The Poetry Box) and, just out from Antrim House, How I Learned to Be White. For more on her poetry and How I Learned To Be White, visit triciaknoll.com.

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