By Ben |

I wrote this poem after attending a summer camp for Young Religious Unitarian Universalists in 1992 (age 16). It was an eventful week, because there were a few kids intent on breaking the rules. They kept at it until they got kicked out, after an epic 5am meeting called by my youth director, Bill Gupton. Bill was equally adamant that he would not be the one to kick them out; the group had to agree to enforce the rules... we just couldn't end the meeting until that happened!

This poem is important to me also because after it was published in Synapse (minus the final line!) Leela Rajani Sinha wrote to me through the magazine to tell me she liked it, and that began a friendship that has lasted for 30 years.

The world should have seen us
        we had love without sex
        we had mind-expansion without drugs
        we had peace without weapons
        we had justice without bureaucracy.
Bill had to lay down the law.
We all had to lay down the law.
Out of 75 we lost 14 to burglary, butts, Bible burning, and beer
        amputate the limb or the whole body dies
        in severing it, we loved it all the more.
They were crimes only because we loved both the criminals and victims.
We gave the sentence because we loved the guilty.
We accepted the sentence because we loved the innocent.
The world should have been watching
        but it was only there in six-foot effigy
                part of Group Camp
                just as Group Camp was part of the world.
The world is just like Group Camp
        only there are more than three rules
        only more people break the rules
        only no one cares enough to get up for meetings at 5 a.m.
If we can show the world that teenagers can behave
If we can show that community can work without sex
The world will see us.