Olivia Stogner

Two Poems

Nun Will Stand
In response to a photograph of a nun being arrested during a peaceful protest.
 
When you took your vows
did they train you, teach you
what to do
while being arrested?
 
Did you think
you’d have a man
with a gun
at his hip
bind your hands
behind your back?
 
At least it is public;
is there
still
some protection
in that?
 
And why were you here?
They will always ask.
 
Children—
locked away,
separated from families,
refugees,
who need help
being hurt
so much pain
so much pain
 
You did not do this.
You said it was wrong
to do this.
 
And for this—
nun will stand.
 
Your face is dignity.
Bless me, my Sister.
 
They did not remove the veil
from their own eyes.

 

 
Light the Fire
 
There is the moment
in the play, at the trial,
when Saint Joan
rips up the signed confession
and says, “Light the fire!”
 
Better—far—to burn me up
than push me down
into a prison—
that is no life.
 
But I don’t want you
to be,
to have to be,
a martyr
for me
 
to see
the black and white
of wrong and right.
 
And if the system
of my ancestors—
if the hate
of white citizens—
martyrs you
 
then—
light the fire, please—
but this time,
start with me.
 
Light a fire
that burns
both brain and soul.
 
Burn me bright
a white hot light,
one that hears and sees.
 


Olivia Stogner is a poet, novelist, playwright, and an English teacher at a community college. She has published two novels: The Unfading and The Unbinding. She is committed to fighting human trafficking and supporting Fair Trade companies and products. She is involved with a racial equity community group in Saxapahaw, NC: The Social Justice Exchange. She has taught English in China, loves to travel, and loves books. Find her on instagram: ladyolivialee.


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