Less than one week after taking to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to call for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, Texas Democratic Representative Al Green returned to Congress with a very different message for both his supporters and his critics.
“For those who may not know, some very ugly things have been said,” Green began, referencing a series of threatening messages he’d received from angry Trump supporters (“we’ll lynch all you fucking niggers,” one caller reportedly told him) which prompted “extreme security measures” from the congressman’s team.
“But,” Rep. Green continued, “they are not in any way comparable to the many kind words that have been expressed.”
Thanking his supporters on behalf of both him, and his staff—“many of whom are young people who are having this as their first experience with Congress”—Rep. Green concluded his brief remarks by reciting poet James Patrick Kinney’s poem “The Cold Within.”
“This poem speaks to the extreme cupidity in our world,” Green explained. “Not stupidity. Cupidity.”
The poem reads:
“Six humans trapped by happenstance
In bleak and bitter cold.
Each one possessed a stick of wood
Or so the story’s told.
Their dying fire in need of logs
The first man held his back
For of the faces round the fire
He noticed one was black.
The next man looking ‘cross the way
Saw one not of his church
And couldn’t bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.
The third one sat in tattered clothes.
He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?
The rich man just sat back and thought
Of the wealth he had in store
And how to keep what he had earned
From the lazy shiftless poor.
The black man’s face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from his sight.
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.
The last man of this forlorn group
Did nought except for gain.
Giving only to those who gave
Was how he played the game.
Their logs held tight in death’s still hands
Was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from the cold without
They died from the cold within.