Thursday, April 6, 2017

Two Poems

What is “identity politics”
            In 2017?
Does anyone even know
  What that term means?
I can see how in the old days,
Putting up the Quebec flag
Or saying “Why wasn’t Columbus included?
Could be kind of a drag
  But these days it seems
Like all it signifies
Is: “issues mainly concerning people who are not –
white guys.”

Tell me true,
You of the Bernie-arian, Thomas Frankian breed,
How does one categorize –
According to your creed –
  An issue like mass incarceration
Or deportation –
is that
Identity politics? – and if so,
  Is it the immigrants who are
in your view
obtrusively asserting their collective identification?
  I find that hard to believe –
When it is they who are being torn away
  To serve someone's idea of a “nation.”
How about in the prisons -- is it identity politics to mind
That some people for years and decades
Are solitarily confined?
Or is it just those pint size
Trivialities like
Transgender rights
That you kindly think should be tabled
Til we win the labor fight?
  Many might do so gladly – they just don’t exactly wish
To be subjected to TV ads 
That say “egad! They must be criminals –
These women-seeming men!”
You see, some don’t go looking for it –
  The identity politics finds them.
Oh, Bernardarians, can we just please not pretend
That there is any great insight to be gleaned
Or “lessons learned and mastered”
From disastrous 2016
Men such as Trump there always have been
  And always will be
Nor should it in the least surprise us
That they are skilled in the art of deceiving
And gaining cheap wealth and power
Since it is the only thought to which such brutalized beings
Have ever devoted an hour
The fact is that some men
Have got very little in their souls
And are missing several other parts
(For they’ve got still less in their minds
And nothing at all in their hearts)
Such men, like our President,
Can be pitied, for aught
Seeing that they have inside them
Pretty much naught
But after that, one proceeds,
Until one is caught
On the assumption that meanwhile --
They have got to be fought.

I am, after all,
A particular thing
A defined, and circumscribed
Wrathful little being
And much as I might wish to be 
Capable of much else (Science! Music! Thoughtful Metrical Analysis --
  Scanning and commentary!)
The fact is there remains only one thing I seem 
equipped to impart -- 
Or spill onto the page --
Namely, a distilled and particular variety
of moral rage
 (Mine is a head 
    That thinks easily in terms
    Of "atrocities" and denunciations -- always had.
  I'd make a good
    Policer of any orthodoxy)

Now -- as a young child I found
That being me was a shame
But when I turned twenty-seven
Suddenly, it became 
An inestimable prize
And one unfairly gained
Certainly I'd done nothing to earn 
  this immeasurably pained
Yet glorifying state (like a crucifix)
Of being me
  -- (So far as I could see)
And one realizes that life feels,
Past a certain age
Like a series of stifling prisons
From which one has only recently made an escape -- 
And a narrow one at that
  Indeed the exodus is so fresh 
That one fully expects
That at any moment one's former
Math teacher, warden, or camp counselor
Will hastily decide
To say from the stairway balcony: "Hey! We've been looking for you -- 
Get back inside!"

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