Thursday, May 18, 2017

Three Poems


Space dog of Moscow,
In my school books I learned
That you orbited the earth – yet I never 
 asked how you returned.
I learned only late,
 in my twenty-seventh year
That you didn’t survive at all -- 
My God, the fear
You must have felt then, in hundred-plus heat
 The loneliness of that death, the impossible feat
Of unchosen courage, stranded above the earth
Not knowing how long
  The pain would last, or whence its source
Sometimes I think
 that your incomprehensible fate
Is as grave or graver an indictment
  Of every worker’s state
  And every five year plan and
 five minutes’ hate
Than the very foulest splurge
  Of Stalin’s great purge --
As well as of the misnamed human-
 “kind” in general
 That enclosed you in Sputnik II,
And of every sapient ameliorative scheme
  That cannot redeem
 This thing that was done to you.

Hundred Flowers Campaign

"The policy of letting a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend is designed to promote the flourishing of the arts and the progress of science."
 -- Mao

Of course you should speak openly
 You were told
Has the party not always welcomed criticism?
 What hope can there be
For us to do better
 If we do not even know
What needs to improve?
So you raise your hand
 Only to discover
 That the promised openness was for someone else
Or for some other
 Words than whatever it was
You just shared
  (All this conveyed instantaneously
    through blank yet menacing stares)
And you say you had not meant to
  Condemn the leaders in the slightest
You had not realized, forgive you,
 That your words were those
 Of a rightist!
I once heard tell
 From a professor of German
There is a habit in her country of taking
 One’s employees out for drinks
 In the course of which one tells them
“Henceforward, you may address me as Du!”
A tantalizing taste of familiarity, more frightening
And deadly at last than tyranny
Because everyone was drunk when the promise was made
And, next morning, no one knows
 Whether to regard it as true.

Poor Princes

"Trump takes two scoops of ice cream with his chocolate cream pie, TIME reported, while everyone else around the table gets just one."
-- CNN

When I see the pin of Kim Jong-Il or -Un’s face
Gracing the front of every North Korean shirt,
  I reflect
That this is exactly the sort
Of society based around himself that our current president
 Would like to erect

Given half a chance.

And are they not similar?
 The dictators of Pyongyang and Mar-
 a-Lago, they were all
 Poor princes, cursed
 With wealth and power and illusions of
 Immortality and importance
  From day one

They never had a chance.

And it wouldn’t be so scary if there were a range of views
 On whether or not
he’d try it
  (Kim Jong-Unifying the land, that is)
But horror of horrors: his most ardent supporters,
  Would not, I don’t think

 Deny it.

No comments:

Post a Comment