STOP THE TRAFFIC, A Poem by Gerard Kelly

Lately, I’ve been reading a fair amount of poetry. Seamus Heaney, D.A. Carson, Wendell Berry, and others.

I find myself returning again and again to poems for spiritual nourishment. I like Eugene Peterson’s idea that when we read a poem, we don’t receive more information, we receive more experience.

I benefit, and we all benefit from more experience.  It opens up the world, and allows us to experience what we’d otherwise miss.

One of my favorite poets is Gerard Kelly, whose book, Spoken Worship, is simply one of the best reads I’ve come across–poetry or prose. I first heard of Gerard through my friend Brian Newman, who pastored in Amsterdam for many years.

Kelly’s poem below is one of many that move me.  The poem I want to share is about Human Sex Trafficking.

(From Spoken Worship: Living Words for Personal and Public Prayer, Zondervan 2007 )

I am a person,
not a potato
to be picked and packaged
and sent to market
to be sliced and diced,
chopped up and ketchupped
on the other side of the world.

I am a human
and I am not for sale.

I am a living conscience,
not a cargo.
I travel passenger,
not freight.
I am not cattle,
not contraband,
not a catalogued commodity.
I’m not the bottom line
for those who trade in tragedy
and profit from perversity.
I am not a can
to be recycled.

I am a human
and I am not for sale.

I am a thinking individual
not a rare exotic bird.
I am your sister,
not an inmate for your zoo.
I am not merchandise,
not meat,
not a meal ticket.
I was mothered,
not manufactured,
not created.

I am human
and I am not for sale.

It’s time to end this trade
in human tragedy,
to terminate this travesty
of a global economy.
Let the red lights
of your cities
be put to better use
to stop the traffic.
Write it in your lights
across your seared conscience:

I am a human
and I am not for sale.

Question: How does Kelly’s poem impact you?  What phrase, word, or image stands out to you, and why?

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