This assignment has three steps:
- Read this poem.
- Listen to poet perform the poem.
- Answer the following questions.
Note: The original lyrics below contain a few f-bombs, whereas the version he performed on TV does not.
“The Heart and the Fist” aka “Rifle” by Rudy Francisco
And the article says,
‘The Mexican government confiscates approximately 30,000 illegal firearms per year.’
When the guns are taken they get dismantled and the metal is used to make other types of weapons that will later be utilized by their military.
In 2012, Pedro Reyes, an artist from Mexico City, convinced his government to donate the guns to him and he turned them into musical instruments.
So somewhere there’s a tambourine, a drum set, a guitar,
All made by things that were used to take people’s lives,
But now they create sound that puts life back into people’s bodies,
Which is you say a weapon will always be a weapon,
But we choose how we fight the war,
And from this I learned that even the most destructive instruments can still create a melody worth dancing to,
And sometimes don’t we also call that a battle?
I wonder how long it took to convince the first rifle that it can hold a note instead of a bullet but still fire into a crowd and make everyone move.
When I was 6 I was taught how to throw a punch,
And in the 80s that was the Anti Bullying Movement.
The first time one of my classmates took a ‘Yo Mama’ joke a little too far I remembered my training,
So I turned his nose into a fountain.
My fist 5 pennies,
I closed my eyes,
Made a wish,
I came home with bloody knuckles and it was the first piece of artwork my family hung on the fridge.
I remember staring at my hands the same way you stare at a midterm when all your answers are correct.
I didn’t know what class this was,
But I did know I was passing,
And isn’t that what masculinity has become?
A bunch of dudes afraid of their own feelings,
Terrified of any emotion but anger,
Yelling at the shadow on the wall,
But still haven’t realized that we’re the ones standing in front of the light.
We learn how to dodge and jab.
We learn how to step in before we swing.
We learn that the heart is the same size as the fist,
But we keep forgetting they don’t have the same functions.
We keep telling each other to man the fuck up
When we don’t know what the fuck that even means.
We turn our boys into bayonets,
We point them in the wrong direction,
We pull their triggers,
And then we just ignore all the damage they’re doing in the distance.
The word repurpose,
It means to take an object and give it amnesia.
It means to make something forget what it’s been trained to do so you can use it for a better reason.
I am learning that this body is not a shotgun.
I am learning that this body is not a pistol.
I am learning that a man is not defined by what he can destroy. I am learning that a person who only knows how to fight can only communicate in violence,
And that shouldn’t be anyone’s first language.
I’m learning that the only difference between a garden and a graveyard is what you choose to put in the ground.
You see, once, I came across a picture of a strange-looking violin.
The caption said that it was made out of a rifle.
I thought to myself, ‘Someday that could be me’.”
Here is the YouTube Link: Spoken-Word Poet Rudy Francisco Performs His Poem “Rifle”