A Call to Purple Arms

Remember how we used to see,
When colors were the same,
When what you perceived and what I saw
Shared a common name?

I gasp and pant by each day’s end
On streets that have no lines,
Where cars as weapons take revenge
For YOU encroached on MINE.

Give up our minds for lower selves
And laugh as conscience fades,
And Jonah walks through Nineveh
Where deaf and dumb pervade.

O! Peril! For man, for woman who
Will turn their backs on truth.
O steel the door for nothing’s safe
When reason can’t get through.

Fade from view, a mighty place, for
Pharisees have returned.
They’ve vilified the other side,
And opposition burned.

Offering self to evil means,
No end can justify.
When selves are sold, there is no gold,
Only violence, anger, lies.

But, O! I can hear it!…
Join with me and hear it…

Thunder’s in the distance
It’s a million marching feet!
The humble there have left their chairs
The liars to defeat,

Saying no to mirror selves,
“Just us” to numb and lance.
Knowing anchor’s weight is full,
Embracing mercy’s chance.

Do not let this nation sink!
Show each weak link the door!
For they’ve betrayed the words that made
Lady Liberty come ashore.

Hear their whistle, this mighty throng
For whom color has been restored.
Stoles of purple on shoulders wide,
A Lincoln era’s born.

How? Heed wisdom from all faiths:
Sacrifice is key!
Do no harm; open muscled arms;
Respect, civility!

Mix Red with Blue, see beauty there!
Do not stand when others bend.
Shed those who divide; refuse foul cries.
Make this land better than it’s ever been!

Their — Our — Children

Wipe your color off on me
While I walk among your graves.
Teach me how to amputate
What denigrates, enslaves.
Put my hand to labor so
They don’t see themselves as less.
O God! My God! Look what we’ve done
With white skin ranking best.

Hatred hides in “wisdom.” O!
Hatred thrives in fear.
Prejudice comes knocking in
The things that some call “dear.”
Shake us, Christ; show us your hands, but
Still we pierce your feet!
Teach us how to rout from us
What lets this hatred be.

Ah! I see the evil!
Ah! I see it clear!
Freeze that frame! Give it a name!
So we can lance it here.
Start again the motion that will
End this killing spree.
My God, don’t let those babies
Turn a questioning eye to me!

In honor of the opening of the Equal Justice Initiative’s Museum and Memorial.
©kelleyrenz 2018

The Immigrant

Hoist sails with gaping holes, and
Hide the sides that leak.
They’ll breathe before the water’s pull
Steals color from their cheeks, and

Silences their significance.
O change reality
Where every candle’s quick is lit
And every life leaves seeds

That should eas’ly find the sun
Were it not for bloated selves
Who steal more than any one should have,
Leaving little else, leaving

Nothing in their wake but them
Convinced their word’s the one
With more promise, more power, more permanence
They, the favored sons

With no care to favor’s other
Squeezed too tight on peril’s board
With songs we now will do without
And our world can ill afford

To lose the voice, the heart, the soul
O! Their angels will accuse
The ones who ask with no real care
“What could we really do?”

Take life’s true risk and dive, O Man
Step off your wealthy shore
Keep that boat atop the waves
Let it go down no more!


To the NRA

Think me silent; think me still
While you gather ’round the gun.
Tether yourselves to its barrel now,
Bow to this chosen one.
Though other nations have faced this god and
Wrestled from its mortal grip,
You run instead to its embrace
And cover your children with it.

See me now rise with a chosen few,
Their voices, my words, to shout.
Your vitriol, violence, and vengeful themes
They vow to live without.
They know the threats; they are not blind,
True power comes in great disguise.
Their courage to lay the sword down now—
He who lives by it shall die!

For herein lies the truth of this:
The reluctant hand is sound.
A last resort for a few to hold
When evil find its way ’round.
The work to keep the few so trained
Supported, grounded, true.
With focus here, wisdom stays near
And calamities are few.

Come, Christian, name your God! Oh see
We are not of equal power!
No weapon did my Son embrace
On that third morning’s hour.
Choose which power you will wield
For my patience is growing thin.
Let these my children stand alone
And I will route you from within!


Congressional Address

Sell us out for party.
Sell us out for gold.
Pretend our words have weight while you
Capitulate control.
Warning signs fall at your feet, and
Wisdom has no chance.
The Religious Right
Has tossed its Knight
To with the devil dance.

Peer into the future, please,
When babies write the script.
For history texts, in high relief –
You get the brunt of it!
No Gilded Age. No Post War Boom.
No Enlightenment!
You’ve played with fools;
You’re ridiculed –
“The Age of One Percent.”

A photo op screams off the page;
The caption says it well:
“Congress turned a deaf ear when
All truth and justice fell.”
And there you are, right out in front
With blinders ’round your eyes!
They named your price,
You sacrificed
The American way of life.

Take up your pen; rewrite this scene!
Realize the power’s yours!
Find what’s good in Red and Blue.
Reboot! Rebuild! Restore!
Don’t let this run its natural course.
We’ve far too much to lose.
Ill-gotten gains
Are not maintained.
Our children are watching you.




See, chaos isn’t hidden now
In back rooms, behind closed doors.
See, it isn’t crouching, crawling
Like it was before.
Shame doesn’t slow its motion,
Inhibition’s up and died.
Turmoil wins another battle,
Take a back seat, peace of mind.

Arms yourselves, raise your warriors!
Don’t look your neighbor in the eye.
Don’t believe a word he utters,
Watch your back, expect the lie.
Shout! Be noisy! Heed the loudest!
Take comfort in the thickest shield.
Now’s the time of darkness, people,
Toss our history in the field.

O! But if we do, then set’s the pathway!
The quickest map to all our doom.
For chaos thrives when loud’s the ruler,
When sacrifice stays in its room.
If any time demanded presence,
Now’s that time to bear our hearts,
To take love out and wield its power,
To remind each of us just who we are.

Fierce the force of love and kindness!
All colors stand when love’s the lead.
See the good within us rising,
Tending to this aching need.
For peace, for justice, for chaos ending,
For reasoned tones and lifted eyes,
Send chaos back to hell, O people
By way of truth, now, may we rise!

Jesus doesn’t look like that

Lean your Christ in front of mirrors
(No reflection’s staring back)
Ignore the thousand voices saying
He doesn’t look like that.

O! but you’re the righteous one
The anointed one who knows
America’s modern Pharisee
Wearing high class white men’s clothes.

And you’ve dug your groove too deeply
You can’t see above its walls
You command respect of tyrant kings
While truth, compassion fall.

“Holy” with you is passive
“Christian” with you is skewed
The Bible a condemnation scale
Your exit’s overdue.

Repent! Throw down perception!
Repent! Get up and serve!
See how my Sermon unifies
To condemn, you use my word!?

My fire to ignite all souls
My grace to draw them near
It is mine to guide the salvation
Of each with trembling and with fear!

It is not yours to part the masses
To say who and who will not see me
Remove no one’s hand from atop the plow
Speak mercy – or, do not speak!

Background Noise

“I can’t see you in the crowd!”
(Unspoken words can be so loud)
An equilibrium disturbed.
I’m always split; my focus splayed.
Enjoy the now? But past betrays,
A violence on reverb.

My body tense, my muscles primed,
Will I move in nick of time,
As evil bursts from its disguise?
I claim a place; I call it ours
And hate what within me cowers for
I know. I know its million lives.

I walk o’er hose and noose and gun.
I vet white souls who near me come.
’Cause rage hides itself so well.
It looks to vent when self’s to blame.
It goes beneath, erupts again,
Colors every day, this bit of hell.

Come cry with me as corners grow
Where flowers sit beside candle’s glow,
And cameras catch another death.
My tears remain while yours can dry.
Blow out the flames; blow out Black lives.
You hoard the air; I hold my breath.


To Nikky Finney


Manchester sounds!
From her belly howls a no,
Shakes terror to its core,
Runs it down in shame,
Shows it for the lie it is.
And every self betrayed,
Who strapped upon a bomb
Waging someone else’s war –
O! You who exploit naïve souls
Whose angels talk to God;
Their angels talk to God!
Fierce will come the answer!
For love will bring you down.
Love will bring you down.

So Far From Wounded

Children of Sorrow, come look at my torture
Come see me hanging from this old, tired wood.
No words need be spoken, no direction to guide you
Find my power within you; it is potent and good.

See this! O feel this! I, too, have been wounded
I take Your pain with me; it turns upside down
Enabling even the youngest among you
To take victims’ tables and turn them around.

Accept invitation to climb up on my body
Free my hands and my feet; take me down from this cross.
For I Am within you, your compassion, your power
Allow me to show you that nothing’s been lost.

So far from wounded can each life be fashioned–
As my dead body now breathes once again–
Every scar trembles with potent persuasion
Saving each soul blocked by similar pain.

Children of Sorrow, I won’t force the discovery.
l will hang here through time to speak to each one
Moved by my wounds, O step forward to help me
Find yourselves welcomed; your own wounds undone.