Solidarity, a poem of protest for our Essential Americans anthology


I recall reading 50 years ago in a book whose author and title I have forgotten a brief passage in which a school of fish are baffled by the twisting and turning of one among their numbers.  “What’s his problem” was not their question, rather, their indignant complaint, unaware that their peer contorts so because he is spinning on a hook.

What’s happening in our American streets might well be called the “shock felt ’round the world.”  It was felt by young activist Quentin Brown in Australia, who responded with this remarkabley mature poem, submitted now as an entry to the anthology to which I hope you, who are reading this, will also contribute your experience.  Please be sure to view the video that follows his poetry, and share it with kindred spirits everywhere who want to change the world.

I hope that this Christmas we have more in common than our pain, and share the hope and desire to make 2021 a year of catharsis and renewal. 


by Quentin Brown


Have you ever been

Somewhere in the middle

Of an evergreen moment?

Maybe in a plum-soaked summer

When time is like water

Trickling down your back

Each second rippling

Across an endless future

The ticking clock mimicking

Your pulsing heartbeat

That fills your veins with velvet veracity

And for a moment you don’t mind

Watching sand grains drip

Through the hourglass

Like when we

Make sacrifices from stolen liquor

And pray to each other

Through silent, soft rebellion

No screaming

No slammed doors

Just the people we love most

And adrenaline that tastes

Like sugar-sweet vodka

Our bodies covered in moonlit promises

That it won’t hurt anymore

That we won’t see the ones we lost

Scattered through our playlists

With soaring chords and heartbreak vocals

And dancing at 3am

The tears on our pillows

Will no longer spell out their names

Instead, we will take to the screaming streets

Hungry for something more

Our calloused hands clasped around picket signs

As we slam against police shields

And smile like we were made for war

With red, raw, aching lungs

We create poetry and battle cries

Voices of steel

Accents of blood

Eyes filled with ash

Hearts bold proud pounding

Ichor coursing through our veins

A baseline beating in our bones

As our voices shake the stars

It’s the same electricity

That courses across the skin of the sky

Before a storm breaks

And it scares me sometimes

But I am so tired

Of being told to burn quieter

So I link arms with those

Made of wildfire

And you can bruise us

Bleed us dry

But it will never be enough

To stop us

From earning our place in the stars

Because my generation

Has wrists bound by plastic bags

And lungs filled with smog

We are nothing but back alley angels

And kings with crowns made from bullets

We are mismatched, misled mistakes

We are broken, banished blemishes

Yet still we flourish in the pavement cracks of cities

Polluted by gods

We don’t believe in

Gods who weave heartstrings between their fingers

And stain their skin crimson

As their ears ring with desperate prayers

And their clawed hands tremble with guilt

The weight of the world has worn them down

To a pile of broken bones

Edged with gold and gore and gluttony

So we learn to trust no one but ourselves

We know that the world

Is littered with ruins of empires

Who believed they were eternal

We left our demons there

To become ghost stories

For squalling tourists

But our crimson heartbeats

Edged with glory and madness

Will echo across time and space

And so we stride, powerful

Knowing that in the kaleidoscope of our bodies

They will find what we fought for


Quentin Brown is an 18-year-old author based in Adelaide who writes poetry and stories for young adults. His work has been featured in numerous publications, festivals, radio shows, and local protests defending the rights of marginalised groups.

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