Poets & Writers

A Poet a Day: Marge Piercy

"I Am Wrestling With Despair"

A Poet a Day: Marge Piercy

During these trying days of social distancing, self-isolating and quarantines, days rife with fear and anxiety, my colleagues and I thought you might like some company. So each day we will be introducing you to poets we have met over the years. The only contagion they will expose you to is a measure of joy, reflection and meditation brought on by “the best words in the best order.”
— Bill Moyers

In this exclusive video, Marge Piercy reads her poem, “I Am Wrestling With Despair,” as part of the BillMoyers.com ‘A Poet a Day’ series. You can view more poetry and an interview with Marge below.

“I Am Wrestling With Despair”

Every day is worse than the one before
a killing of all that was legislated
to be kind, helpful, healthy for all
living creatures, prisoners of this earth.
The meanness of it gets me, the hatred
of who have less money and things
and thus count less and should be
punished or simply pushed into some
locked closet of poverty and forgotten
except for occasional rhetoric blaming
them for the state of that closet. How
do these men stand being so cold
and full of malice? They have plenty
left to flog women for having bodies.
How dare women desire, how dare
we choose, say no, resist, insist.
I can’t give up, no matter how cozy
that looks by contrast with all this
jabbering, this attempt to organize
our anger into some kind of weapon.


Poet Marge Piercy was born into a working-class home in Detroit. Hard times produced strong convictions and loyalties. Her prose and poetry speak of memory and justice. But she writes of other things, too — tomatoes, zucchinis and oak trees, and circles on the water.

Watch Bill’s entire interview with Piercy from 1999.