The Ideal World

Editor’s note: This poem is part of our #SpreadTheWord poem of the week series, featuring work by Chicago artists based on Injustice Watch reporting. The poem was inspired by the commentary, ‘Listen: Youth organizers discuss Black joy, West Side history and the future.’ For more poetry in this series, click here. It is not some café on the Mediterranean glittering in the sun, the ocean breezes of the spring, the smell of coffee,
it is not Yo-Yo Ma and Peter Serkin wordlessly letting us in on the intimate partly improvised conversation that is the sonata,

it is not the clamor and jabber of eighty thousand cranes after they have glided to a stop on the marshy lake, having plunged and swooped down in silent descent from the heavens,

nor the fear-filled bravery of those who face down the instruments of tyranny until the
opposing phalanxes dissipate in the clear air of morning,

nor the seemly colloquy of honest adversaries,

nor the bubble within which we cultivate kindness to our own,–

but a crowded bus on the way home from a demonstration and a child no older than three in her mother’s arms yelling the contagious chant, “The people demand social justice.”


Bernard Horn’s new collection of poems, Love’s Fingerprints, has been praised by Major Jackson, Carl Dennis, and Prageeta Sharma. His first collection, Our Daily Words, was a finalist for the 2011 Massachusetts Book Award in Poetry.