The Writer as Conscience

Black writerThe Writer as Conscience

Last week I posed this question to my students: “What is the role of the writer in society?” One particularly bright student said. “The role of the writer is to inform upper class people of what is going on in society so that they could bring change”.  I restated the student’s response in this manner: “So then one could infer that the storyteller/ writer is the conscience of the people”. He concurred. The writer Karl Keating writing on the role of the conscience says, “Conscience is the faculty which warns you that you’re doing something wrong — or neglecting to do something right that should be undertaken”.  My hope is that in some small way I could be a tiny conscience to others on the issue of domestic violence.



In the role of society’s conscience of sorts, I try to accurately describe issues experienced so that at the end of a poem or anthology a reader can at least say that the writer understands what I am experiencing. In my anthology/memoir I try to portray myself as a real person in a quest just like my readers so that my dilemma becomes theirs. At the forefront of my mind is to portray the universality of the issue at hand, and the dilemma of being human.  Thus as conscience the writer begins by being a mirror reflector.

As a metaphoric conscience I aim not to be a mirror that reflects to distort and sensationalize but one that brings clarity to the human condition. I reveal my life with an authenticity that makes me vulnerable to be misinterpreted, misunderstood or frowned upon. Yet I feel compelled to chronicle my experience with a fidelity that has the potential to convincingly expose the dark underbelly of the society and of the self. You see it is my belief that one only has what one gives away. In giving myself away like this and leaving myself open and vulnerable it is my hope that I could persuade others to make psychological investments in human kind. It is my hope to inspire others to bring the change that the student spoke of or at least to agitate to make that change happen. Certainly, I want to spur them not to neglect to do something right or to undertake that which should be done to address the situation



In the poem below I reveal how my life was shaken in the aftermath of domestic violence. In the process not only do I leave myself open to the criticism of others, but I become my own worst critic. Because I try to write with honesty and sincerity at the end of the process I see myself and examine my thoughts and become self-critical. Here is where writing becomes a painful experience as it is hard to face your truth. Even though you may want to take back what was written it is already written and taking it back does not make it less of the truth. Ultimately, I resolve the matter by admitting that it was my truth at the time, but I have grown away from that position.

In honesty I try to show the pain that was my life. As I look back on this poem I see the pain that was my life. I see the ugliness in me that caused me to question my faith- which is my center, and I feel ashamed. I see my weakness and I am critical of myself for allowing circumstances to move me like this. I am still trying to forgive myself for this error.

I hope the poem that follows touches hearts and minds, causes you to have opinions and inspires you to make a difference.


My God! My God!

Why hast thou dealt so harshly with me?

Why hast thou forsaken me?

Why? Why?

O God of my childhood,

sweet gentle Jesus,

I had not known you thus.

Why are pain and unhappiness

constant residents of my being?

God, remember how we were

intimate once, You and I?

I was the lamb frisking

in the green pastures of your presence.

We communed then,

You and I,

while all heaven looked on.

It was good then, so good, Lord.

Now visions of the grave rise

before my eyes and scare me.

Every moment I fear the end,

for in the menace’s eye

is the ominous presence of death.


And what is left?

A God who seems absent,

abuse from within and without

at the hand of a stranger—lover and brother.

Oh, my God, it never stops.

I’m the cornered fawn,

forever retreating

before the heinous hounds of hell.

I’ll be good, I say to the menace,

but that’s not enough—

nothing I do is ever enough.

I weep in the shackling gloom

Crossroads and similar poems can be found in my book Splendor from Ashes

42 thoughts on “The Writer as Conscience

  1. Thank you for sharing this. It takes a lot of courage to share with such vulnerability and I hope that others are able to take away from your message as well.


  2. I love how deep and meaningful this post is. Your poem is beautiful and raw with so much emotion attached. Being open and vulnerable is hard to do and I thank you for your example.


  3. Oh wow! I love your poem and I love your honesty and intensity that shows throughout your writing! Domestic Violence is a serious issue and we need more awareness so that we can affect positive change. Thanks so much for sharing your story!


  4. This is very deep and I can almost feel your pain through your writing. God is faithful and even when we feel distant from Him, He is still listening to us, abide in Him and He will abide in you… Thank you for the courage to share your emotions 🙂


  5. Writers and other artists are some of the strongest people in the world because through their work they are constantly bearing their souls and exposing their vulnerabilities. Thank you for sharing about your experiences so honestly and using your words to bring attention to a greater problem- domestic violence.


  6. My eyes are misty after reading your deeply emotional poem. Domestic violence is such an ugly thing. Thank you so much for so openly sharing your experiences. Hopefully others who have suffered similar circumstances will know they are not alone, and there is hope of a better day.


  7. I too am a domestic violence survivor so this hits so close to home. Your poem is powerful and I wish I had the ability to make my words speak to people the way yours have hear. I appreciate you being so raw and honest with us all. It takes incredible strength.


  8. Thank you for providing insights into young folks mind. I was a journalism minor and I still hold words and the truth dear to my heart.


  9. I love the poem! Your posts are always so raw an authentic and I appreciate reading them! This one feels extra vulnerable and special! Thank you for sharing 🙂


  10. i really liked the poem. it definitely had a strong meaning into it . thank you for sharing your mind with us.


  11. Gods grace is never ending. And I’m so glad you are being an advocate as many are not ready yet to tell their story. Maybe one day you could look into doing counseling. You could save a life. Love this!


  12. Oh that poem! It pierced my heart. So much truth, so much emotion. You are a good writer. Your words are so powerful and moving.


  13. There are many Christians who believe we should not resist evil but submit and suffer. They genuinely believe it is the way of the cross and point to Jesus Christ who accepted death on the cross. Others take a different view , they believe in the ‘ just war ‘ which seeks to rid the world of evil. Just suppose we had submitted to Hitler and allowed him to take over the world .


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