In 1985 I was one of six members of the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee, three women and three men, subpoenaed to a federal grand jury investigating, not our work, but armed actions by comrades who were underground. Following the example of Puerto Rican Independentistas (and most Leftists historically) we refused to cooperate and were for some months political prisoners.

RSVP to the FBI

(On being subpoenaed to give information to a Federal Grand Jury investigating revolutionary movements inside the USA)

Thank you for handing me this invitation

to talk to you

But I am otherwise engaged.

Thank you for offering me this opportunity

to have a heart to heart

with the murderers of Martin Luther King

and Fred Hampton,

not to mention Crazy Horse

Michael Stewart and Eleanor Bumpurs

and the nameless millions

who do have and will have names

But I am otherwise engaged.

Thank you for inviting me

to sit down with the brothers

of the somocistas

(as you describe yourselves)

their long knives eager

for the blood of teachers

the blood of nuns

the blood of Sandino

which is right now running

bright like a river in the veins of young


But l am otherwise engaged.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity

to spit on the graves of Sacco and Vanzetti

to dishonor the memory of the Rosenbergs

or of my ex father in law

who spent 10 years not being an actor

rather than 10 minutes being a collaborator

But l am otherwise engaged.

Thank you for inviting me to run with the hounds

howling through the ruined cities

try ing to hunt down the


the ten or the hundred most wanted

most ready and willing and able

to resist with arms

and heart and ideology

your world

wide crimes

But l am otherwise engaged.

And seriously, thanks

for giving me this chance

to stand fast with the Puerto Ricans

who have gone to jail silent since 1936

rather than drink from your bootprints ·

To stand fast with the New Afrikans

who like Nat Turner “never said a mumbling word”

To stand fast with the Palestinians

steadfast in Israeli prisons

the Irish deep and defiant in Long Kesh.

the Africans on Robben Island

scorning your offers with songs

To stand fast with the children of Lumumba

and Che and Malcolm X

not to mention my own children

and your own as well

Thank you for this chance to stand

not with the defeated but the defiant

who pick up the gun

who pick up the pen

who pick up the baby and the struggle

Thank you for this chance

to stand with humanity against you

Don’t mind if I do.

Terry Bisson
April, 1985


(Thanks for your interest in my work. If you enjoyed this little piece, please give a dollar to a homeless person.)