Poem with an explanation: Putting away the soapbox

They speak
you hear.

You speak
no one hears.

You bring out your soapbox
and some listen
though so much fewer
than the whole.

Some nod
some shake
nothing changes.

They speak
you hear.

You speak
no one hears.

You bring out your soapbox
and some listen
though so much fewer
than the whole.

Some nod
some shake
nothing changes.

The cycle repeats.

And then one day
you paddle your boat
down a new channel.

They speak
you hear.

You speak
no one hears.

The soapbox though
stays put away.

But then you wonder
of all the others
flowing along
the other channels.

The sky is blue
but they say green
and somewhere inside
it doesn’t make sense.

But soapboxes are heavy
and the channel is smooth
and so you stay

and calmly listen.

 

This poem is about watching political news.

In the poem, a person starts by watching political news they disagree with (They speak/ you hear).

The person feels a sense of disagreement.  They believe that what they are hearing is wrong.  Though no one is listening, they say why it is wrong. (You speak/ no one hears.)  This line also relates to the reach of the media contrasted with the reach of a single person.  The person hears the media, but no one hears the person.

The person wants to express their view to others and correct the information they see as wrong in the news.  They go online on social media (You bring out your soapbox).  As referenced above, they reach a far smaller audience than the media (and some listen/ though so much fewer/ than the whole.)

When they express their view, some people agree (Some nod), some disagree (some shake), but they cause no change in either group (nothing changes).

The next four stanzas repeat the first four.  This is to emphasize the idea that the person keeps going through this.  They watch news they disagree with, they go online to say why they disagree, supporters agree with them, other people oppose, and they cause no change.  This notion is said more explicitly in the following stanza (The cycle repeats.)

The person gets tired of the cycle and so they change the channel (And then one day/ you paddle your boat/ down a new channel).  They find a news channel they agree with.

At first things are the same.  The media has a reach greater than the person (They speak/ you hear.  You speak/ no one hears.)

Since the person agrees though, they don’t feel the need to express their ideas (The soapbox though/ stays put away.)

The person then starts to wonder though (But then you wonder).  They think about all the people watching news that they believe is biased and inaccurate (of all the others/ flowing along/ the other channels).

The sense of how inaccurate the information is, is expressed in the first two lines of the next stanza (The sky is blue/ but they say green).  The person struggles with the idea that first, in their view biased information is being spread to so many, second, that so many people don’t see the information as biased, and third, that there isn’t much the person can do about it.  This doesn’t make sense to the person.

The person at first feels like they want to correct the information they see and speak up about it.  This becomes tiring though (But soapboxes are heavy).  They find the new news they are watching agreeable (and the channel is smooth), and so they stop watching the other news they disagree with (and so you stay) and they feel calm (and calmly listen).

The poem expresses the idea that listening to news that a person disagrees with can be a tiring experience.  It can feel tiring for a person to want to correct much of what they hear and it can feel bad for a person to think about the biased information being disseminated and others not seeing it as biased.  Because of this, some people simply stick to news they agree with.  It can be a calmer more comfortable experience.