Sunday, August 7, 2016

Two Poems

Conservative Intellectuals

Oh dear, just thinking about them,
It almost makes me cry!
Old Podhoretz –
What’s it for-etz?
Bill Kristol (a real pistol)
Bill’s father?
  Why do they bother?
David Brooks (he’s got the looks)
… Kill me now please-eltier
Oh I just want to grab them up in my arms and weep!

To be on the right, and therefore to be wrong
Not just extremely often, but every single time!
To err so unerringly, to be so wide of the mark
To fail in every prediction – and yet to have staked it all on being right!
Being right was all they had going for them, I mean
Some other kinds of wrong
Have some remedial quality of fun
But theirs was always, like: I know this won’t be pretty
But it is what’s got to be done.
And then we learn each time, it shouldn’t have been done at all –
It was a total mistake –
And it’s still ungenerous and ugly
A double whammy of wrong -- because
They lost in an unworthy cause – 
Oh the sting of it!
The only time they’re really in fine form
And seem most genuinely happy
Is when they adopt for one peaceful minute
A single left-wing position
Or when they can use some liberal value
To torpedo a liberal mission.
It’s almost as if even they do not want
To know that they went down fighting
Always on the side against the poor,
The prisoner, the outcast, the stranger
That they made their stand so bravely
On the backs of the already wretched
Might we not – they ask – have a taste of that stuff
That not-being-so-awful-for-once juice?
They are unwilling executioners.
  (Has there ever been a better time for them than now,
  for instance, when they can all take the stump
  And reassure us, over and again, “See –
  We, too, hate Trump)
Strangely for ones, though,
In so unwelcome a situation
They seem to convince the rest of us each time
To join them in their damnation!
It always seems so compelling in the moment
  Well, maybe the root of the problem is cultural, not economic
  To put personal responsibility at the center of our crime/
  Welfare policy
  And tighten our belts just till,
  Our economy’s back on track (and meanwhile invade Iraq), I mean, sure I don’t like it
But it is what’s got to be done. – Sounds almost reasonable, doesn’t it?
And every time they talked us into it
And we went right along
So you’d think we’d be their allies – no
That’s where you’d be wrong.
It is the thinnest kind of solidarity, this,
This partnership of the damned
 “Please, officer,” we say, “he
Tricked us into doing it!”
Much like a gangster’s moll.
And he is like the leering mug, who says: “Yuh weren’t so
Innocent when we planned it, doll.”
Why do they have this ability
To persuade us – is it
Because they’ve got the power?
Do they in fact, as Hughes implied
Control the bulk of the hour?
Or is it because it just seems too neat, too unlikely
To have all the right on one side?
One thinks it can’t really be like that,
The right must be right sometimes!
And one looks about, one opens one’s mind
Until – Here’s an issue, I find –
On which they and I can finally agree
See, I told you I could be kind!
But then one looks at the issue, one
Picks it up and drops it
One listens to the Buckleyan locomotor within
And straddles it, and stops it.
For even if you and the conservatives
Seemed to align for a season
You realize that -- and so brief it was – it
Happened for all the wrong reasons.
I admit it seems a little too fortunate a chance
That all their beliefs are false every time
And all mine happen to be true
It probably means, if I’m honest with myself
That mine are completely wrong too.


Being oneself a product of
Some fraying secular civilization
One cannot help but envy one’s
Mormon contemporaries
When one sees them gliding past one’s eyes
Of a Sunday morning
They enter their ward so very plainly
Inhabiting a better plane.
In suits they are, or
Pearls and heals – One feels
Like one of Satan’s lesser imps
Forced to watch as the angels process –
One’s sulfurous name having wisely been
Struck off the immortal scroll;
One notes one’s own
Untucked shirt, and their
Estimably im-panted ones
One’s own lone untied shoe, and their
Eminently fastened ones
The fact that one’s morning coffee stains
The left half of the torso
Contrasts with their
Pristine fronts—
They never touch the stuff.

And then:

One wonders if it is not
After all so easy
To tuck in the shirt and find the mate
And birth the baby and bring up the child
And have the large family and build the large house
And make the large money and lay off the coffee

And quiet the large doubts and leave the large terrors

And maybe it is, but one knows the while
One would not do it if one could (and
Can); one recalls
A legend among some
Apologists (and anthropologists)
That the damned in fact desire
Their fate
Indeed they practically
Pray for it
And though one does not believe it, it seems
In one’s own case quite convincing.

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