poetry, political prisoners, Terry Bisson -

RSVP to the FBI [Terry Bisson, April 1985]

Last week, the world lost sci-fi author and lifelong anti-racist, anti-imperialist activist Terry Bisson at age 81.
Terry and his family asked that gifts made in his honor go to the Abolitionist Law Center for their work in defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Here is the link: https://secure.everyaction.com/7NqPPSxbgkWuJaBjNSV8PQ2
We wanted to share this poem Terry wrote after being jailed alongside 5 other members of the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee for refusing to cooperate with a federal grand jury investigating the armed underground in 1985.
RSVP to the FBI
Thank you for handing me this invitation
to talk to you
But I am otherwise engaged.
Thank you for offering me this opportunity
to have a heart to heart
with the murderers of Martin Luther King
and Fred Hampton,
not to mention Crazy Horse
Michael Stewart and Eleanor Bumpurs
and the nameless millions
who do have and will have names
But I am otherwise engaged.
Thank you for inviting me
to sit down with the brothers
of the somocistas
(as you describe yourselves)
their long knives eager
for the blood of teachers
the blood of nuns
the blood of Sandino
which is right now running
bright like a river in the veins of young
But l am otherwise engaged.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity
to spit on the graves of Sacco and Vanzetti
to dishonor the memory of the Rosenbergs
or of my ex father in law
who spent 10 years not being an actor
rather than 10 minutes being a collaborator
But l am otherwise engaged.
Thank you for inviting me to run with the hounds
howling through the ruined cities
trying to hunt down the
the ten or the hundred most wanted
most ready and willing and able
to resist with arms
and heart and ideology
your world
wide crimes
But l am otherwise engaged.
And seriously, thanks
for giving me this chance
to stand fast with the Puerto Ricans
who have gone to jail silent since 1936
rather than drink from your bootprints ·
To stand fast with the New Afrikans
who like Nat Turner "never said a mumbling word"
To stand fast with the Palestinians
steadfast in Israeli prisons
the Irish deep and defiant in Long Kesh.
the Africans on Robben Island
scorning your offers with songs
To stand fast with the children of Lumumba
and Che and Malcolm X
not to mention my own children
and your own as well
Thank you for this chance to stand
not with the defeated but the defiant
who pick up the gun
who pick up the pen
who pick up the baby and the struggle
Thank you for this chance
to stand with humanity against you
Don't mind if I do.
—Terry Bisson, April, 1985
*I was one of six members of the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee, three women and three men, subpoenaed to a federal grand jury investigating, not our work, but armed actions by comrades who were underground. Following the example of Puerto Rican Independentistas (and most Leftists historically) we refused to cooperate and were for some months political prisoners.