The Tennessee Three – A Poem

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A short poem about The Tennessee Three, the holy week, and all that happened last week, and will happen.  Since 2016, we are numbed by the daily onslaught of contentious and divisive rhetorics. What was completely unthinkable has become commonplace. But that does not excuse us for allowing ourselves to be boiled to death, like the frogs in warming water.

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To listen as a 2-min podcast


The Tennessee Three

etched in history

for their hearts and deeds,

 in April’s 1st week



They remembered the children’s last screams,

they felt their despair, 

they heard their silent pleas,

whose bodies were blown to pieces

by a spray of 152 rounds, from an AR 15.


They showed their conscience:

Gloria Johnson

Justin Jones

Justin Pearson

during a break from State Congress,

arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder,

standing with peaceful protestors.


The two young Congressmen, the African Americans,

were expelled by white GOP legislators,

on the grounds of breaking “decorum”.

With one vote, Gloria survived expulsion,

being a white Congresswoman.


It was the week of Presidential Indictment,

the week of States’ fighting over abortion,

and Supreme Court Justice Thomas’ troubles with the law,

repeating his lack of moral discretion.

The week full of horror stories 

about AI creating falsehood and deception.

The week of global conflicts,

in Israel, Ukraine, and elsewhere

hidden bubbles of friction.


It was the Christian holy week 

leading up to Resurrection.


The Tennessee Three

the lightning before the storm

while the deafening thunders roam

braving the sea of foam.


In the wrestling between good and evil,

there is nowhere to hide.

All souls are naked,

but only a few are awake.


Must all hell go loose,

a precondition for Resurrection?


Will freedom, justice, democracy survive,

After 247 years of experimentation?


At a trying time for freedom’s fate,

all souls are naked,

but only a few are awake.


Are you standing by and letting the ship die,


will you save the ship and survive?



© Joanne Z. Tan

Written Apr 8, 2023


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