The Poetry of Public Service

Friday, May 20, 2016

by Nick Charney RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Nick Charneytwitter / nickcharneygovloop / nickcharneyGoogle+ / nickcharney

Sometimes you just have to mix it up a little. Here's a poem by my friend and colleague Lauren Hunter. Enjoy!

Rebel Song to the Public Service

You will not find us where you expect.
You cannot summon us, contain us or will us to conform.
We are difficult, unruly, unpredictable.
But we are here for you,
Even if what we are and what we bring is not what you would think to ask for.

We travel paths you have overlooked and bring back treasures to lay at your feet.
We fall from mountains you avoid to find a safer line for you to climb.
We take hits on the frontline to clear an unobstructed path for you.
We build houses we do not stay to use.

You see, we never set out to create these things for ourselves.
Wild hearts need a calling
And with all roads before us, we have chosen you as our compass.
We strive to do great deeds for you
(Even, and perhaps especially, when you do not ask us to)
Rather than the easier alternative.

For there is no goal more worthy of the rebel soul than freedom,
And freedom is nothing if we only win it for ourselves.

We lay our works and hearts before you,
Edgy and uncouth, disruptive but deeply loyal,
In the service of a greater democracy
Because you are sworn to safeguard it.
We give what we are to you
So you can give everything to it.

Beware that you succeed in taming us.
Making us like you until we are no longer any use to you.
Because what we are is needed.

Without us, you would remain as you are now,

We will stay with you
As long as we have the will to keep taking down the fences you put in front of us,
Strength in our legs to get back up when you knock us down.
And when we leave, others will rise up to take our places.

Long after, when the wounds we give each other have healed,
You will call us visionaries and leaders.
You will tell the stories of our rebel deeds with pride, natural as breathing,
As a part of you.

But we would trade all future praise,
For you to see us now
And value us now, as we are.
For a chance to walk this path together.

We are yours,
But we could serve you better
If we didn’t have to spend so much time walking in from the margins,
If we could build great works for you and with you,
Without having to hold one arm up to shield us as we work.

We do not ask for what you fear.
All we want is for you to understand
There are enough barriers to overcome in the service of the greater good
Without those you build to slow us down.

Maybe, just maybe,
You could bring us in from the cold
By giving us a little space by the fire.
Could we not, each of us, learn to do this better
Working together?