Convocation Poetry

Student-penned poems from the virtual Convocation ceremony held on October 2, 2020.

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For Those That Rape and Colonize
(click here to view the live reading of this poem from Convocation 2020)
By Jessica Hairston ’22, MFA ’23

For Those That Rape and Colonize,
Earth and I are one in the same, to take hold of Earth, is to take hold of Me
I, the Black Woman, the oldest adage, has watched Herself, Earth, raped out of sanctity and auctioned as a commodity, to devolve from a house of worship to a house full of the things that haunt

For the sake of greed, at the mercy of those that lust and want
My body is the landscape of earth’s geography small scaled, in my truest essence, I exude an aura-ancient and avant
The top layers of my skin shelter thousands of fissures, wherein lies the word ‘opulence’, elucidated under the gaze of astronomical dawn

My melanin is so worldly, it’s the oldest decorum for an ancient ecosystem, the ‘Black Bod’
Wherever, I lay my body, plants blossom, the sun reveals herself, lost moons are found, ‘cause the Black Woman is Earth’s first reflection, her first confidant

My body is often everybody’s home, this wallpaper I live under, is as deep as indigo
By now, you should know, there is no reconciling Earth’s changing climate, when you still rape away the light of the blackest abodes
As my topical layers fade from opal to opaque, there’s a virus of those that rape and colonize that dims the light in me that glows

Earth came and cried to me the other day, actually she broke down in pain; she said, that she is dying quickly, that the time were living in is borrowed
So I cried right back, broken and in pain; I said, that I miss the days where brown skin was a gift, a legacy, inheritance, because now when I look at Earth, my reflection reveals to me my inherited death sentence, to be black is to have sorrow

Instead of innovate locally, you searched, pillaged, and conquered-globally
Now my lungs are like the atmosphere you created: breathless, dense, cloudy
My kidneys are as overburdened as our overpoliced inner cities
My energy is as depleted as our neglected rural communities
Honoring Earth, is honoring our collective health, ancient love, communal wealth, giving grace and saying please

My skin is so dark and full of shade, it’s outer-worldly
My skin is so black and pretty, it’s as extraterrestrial as our immeasurable galaxy
Home can’t have zipcodes, or borders, or stop where the sun can no longer be seen
Or where the sun sets and rises
Relinquish your entitlement, make sovereign the bodies you’ve commodified
Make sovereign the bodies you’ve raped and colonized
Live morally, live minimally, and watch alternatives manifest the extras in life, the things you’ve earned, the delicacies you still desire

A Survivor

This is Not a Poem
(click here to view the live reading of this poem from Convocation 2020)
By Reilly Hirst, MPP ’21

This is not a poem

And I am not a poet
but that’s a story for another time

This is not a poem
The lines etched out against the long dark evening
And contrasting with the even longer day

This is not a poem
Moving against the injustice
Of a whitewashed euphoria
Trampling on the majority of the world

This is not a poem
A piece mouthing its words
About birds, specific birds
Like Wren, or Warbler or Cardinal
Against a misty dewy morning

This is not a poem
Declaring its love
The agony of your flesh
Contorting my will my desire
Deliciously reveling in flesh and fecundity
Or everlasting heavens
Illuminating our moment
In a tower
In a bedroom
By a stream

This is not a poem
Holding Us
Holding our hands
Into the dark night of doom
The scythe reaping souls faster than we can plant them

This is not a poem
Stopping the march of one million patients
Sewing the masks we wear
Against each other
Yearning for touch

This is not a poem
In this long long nightmare
Putting pennies away where dollars were spent

This is not a poem
As we hold each other tightly across
An expanse of thousands of miles
Via synapses and pixels
Or 6 feet whatever’s longer

This is not a poem
And that is not a sigh
Heard collectively round the world
Or a tear dripping from a statue
Whose large belly
And countenance
Seems at odds

This is not a Poem
There’s no promise
Or stop
Or silence
Or even distraction here

This is not a poem
It’s just our lives.

Pause for Love’s Sake
(click here to view the live reading of this poem from Convocation 2020)
By Sara Lahey ’22


Pause is powerful

So how do we respond to the day presented to us?

For so many reasons throughout history there have been moments that unified people

And others that divided people

Division seems so deeply rooted

And unification somehow so fragile

Right now we need undeniable unity and collaboration worldwide

Each of us are part of a collective direction of humanity


This is a deeply humbling and powerful time

A time to pause

This is not a time to check out

But instead check in

And I ask myself, who do I want to be?

What should we do with the powerlessness we feel?

I say, pause

Inside each of us there’s a voice from the heart

Take a moment and listen

My heart says, I am not powerless and this is a great opportunity for a great new strength to be born in me

A deeper commitment to choosing to love my way through each day

I have the power to think positively, be thoughtful, act with kindness and consideration

To practice forgiveness, to use my courageous voice, and to practice generosity with myself and others

This is the most powerful revolutionary act we can do from exactly where we are

Love is our greatest resource

Love is everything

And I love you no matter what