top nav spacer
You Are Here: Home » Art » We Vote Every Day (A Poem by James Tracy)

We Vote Every Day (A Poem by James Tracy)

Amazing how one single day can have so many meanings.

For some of us in the U.S., tomorrow’s elections will bring busy hours of phone banking, door knocking, waiting in line (perhaps for hours), and gathering breathlessly to watch the results.  For others, it may also be a bitter day of disenfranchisement — whether because of immigration status, a felony conviction, or dubious “voter fraud” protections.  For still others — millions, living outside the U.S. — it may be a day of side-eyeing an imperialist behemoth whose policies will continue to affect (and probably afflict) your life, and the lives of those you love.

For all of us, it will be another day of breathing in, breathing out.

I’m grateful to have heard this poem recently.  For me, it’s a centering meditation on the significance and insignificance of a day like tomorrow, among so many other days of action and inaction.  As always, would love to hear your thoughts.

Take good care,





i’m always
                              of parties
                                      republican ones
                              democratic ones
                                      green ones
                              red ones
                                      old ones
                              first ones
                                      third ones
                                      infantile disorder
                              a simple love
                                      of the people
                              that burns like
                                      a ballot
                                      in a molotov cocktail


                              i have often
                              a clothespin
                                      on my nose
                              and punched the chad
                                      pulled the lever
                              but really i believe
                                      that every cook
                              can govern.
                                      behind every
                              “hi, can I take
                              your order?”
                                      lies a
                              hidden analysis
                                      hammers and nails
                              can build more than
                                      luxury lofts
                              teachers aren’t the
                                      reasons school fall apart
                              war is the
                                      cardiac arrest of the state
                              junkies and crackheads
                                      have names beside
                              junkies and crackheads
                                      the rattle of spare change cups
                              might be the tune of a new
                                      revolutionary song


                              robin hood
                                      was not the only one
                              who was right;
                                      harriet tubman
                              was right
                                      the road to freedom
                              must sometimes be walked
                                      with a rifle;
                              john brown
                                      was right,
                              there is more to life
                                      than what is painted white;
                              ricardo flores magon
                                      was right,
                              borders are just scars;
                                      lucy parsons
                              was right,
                                      a woman’s place is
                              front and center
                                      in this fight;
                              eugene debs
                                      served his country
                              better from prison
                                      than any president
                              has from the white house


                              the most important choices
                                      we make
                              are on the days between elections
                                      picketlines walked
                              homes unevicted
                                      communities mobilized
                              cynicism conquered
                                      empires deleted
                              meanings for once
                                      not lost in translation
                              kindness given
                                      love made
                              to that extent you know


                              we all vote every day



Artwork commemorating the dead at the US-Mexico border.






James Tracy is a long-time economic justice organizer based in the SF Bay Area. He is the co-author (with Amy Sonnie) of Hillbilly Nationalists: Urban Race Rebels and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times.

His articles on social movements and urban studies have appeared in Race, Poverty and the Environment, Shelterforce, Dollars and Sense, Z, Processed World, and at

Tracy has edited two activist handbooks: the Civil Disobedience Handbook and the Military Draft Handbook, both on Manic D Press. Works of Poetry include co-editing Avanti Popolo: Italian-Americans Sail Beyond Columbus, and Sparks and Codes.

Among his spiritual social movement influences he counts Thich Nhat Hanh and the Berrigan Brothers.

Use these simple buttons to share!
Share on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on Twitter

© 2017 Buddhist Peace Fellowship

Scroll to top