Friday, June 6, 2008

Three Political Poems

Bird With Two Right Wings

And now our government
a bird with two right wings
flies on from zone to zone
while we go on having our little fun & games
at each election
as if it really mattered who the pilot is
of Air Force One
(They're interchangeable, stupid!)
While this bird with two right wings
flies right on with its corporate flight crew
And this year its the Great Movie Cowboy in the cockpit
And next year its the great Bush pilot
And now its the Chameleon Kid
and he keeps changing the logo on his captains cap
and now its a donkey and now an elephant
and now some kind of donkephant
And now we recognize two of the crew
who took out a contract on America
and one is a certain gringo wretch
who's busy monkeywrenching
crucial parts of the engine
and its life-support systems
and they got a big fat hose
to siphon off the fuel to privatized tanks
And all the while we just sit there
in the passenger seats
without parachutes
listening to all the news that's fit to air
over the one-way PA system
about how the contract on America
is really good for us etcetera
As all the while the plane lumbers on
into its postmodern
manifest destiny

- Lawrence Ferlinghetti

There is no poem that will stop this war

This is not the one. There is none. There is
nothing to be done. We are not anything but
the Hun the fierce images in old textbooks
the Mongol horsemen rape and pillage
villages burning and the laughter of old men.
The radio and television prepare us
for the Super Bowl. But already in Ohio
we are number one. All of us better
than all of the rest of the world. Admit it

it was the perfect game. Allah praise Ohio State.
And admit this all who listen to NPR
the president is smarter than you.
He is riding the armored car of history while you
look for a refuge some safe place for your children.
But there is no place to hide. We are the virus.
Everything that cannot be bought and sold
for a profit falls before us. He knows this
even if you believe he is a fool. He lives and breathes
Karl Marx while you hold up a sign that says
Peace is Patriotic. The laughter of old men.

There is no image to stop the war. No child
with burned blacked skin like barbecued chicken.
The children waste away from bad plumbing and no
medicine. We pass along to each other the chips
and organic carrots. Bottled water.

There is no poem as good as government ensured
bonds. We are wounded with so little interest. There
is no poem that will pay us ten percent and stop
this war. The Germans marched prematurely
through history never understanding the power
of the dollar never having heard of Lexus and SUV
never knowing anything about baseball never
knowing that the Yankees only lose enough
to make the game seem fair. Vietnam is empty
in the memory. Cambodia fills with Wal-Mart
and Burger King. Bombs from 20,000 feet.

The first dictate of battle is to make sure
the enemy has no weapons to harm you.
Disable their best batter. Tonya Harding their best runner.
Then attack and wait for the parade. But dont wait
for the poem that will stop this war. There is none.
The history of the empire has just begun.

- Joe Napora

The Last Election

Suppose there are no returns,
and the candidates, one
by one, drop off in the polls,
as the voters turn away,
each to his inner persuasion.

The frontrunners, the dark horses,
begin to look elsewhere,
and even the President admits
he has nothing new to say;
it is best to be silent now.

No more conventions, no donors,
no more hats in the ring;
no ghost-written speeches,
no promises we always knew
were never meant to be kept.

And something like the truth,
or what we knew by that name-
that for which no corporate
sponsor was ever offered-
takes hold in the public mind.

Each subdued and thoughtful
citizen closes his door, turns
off the news. He opens a book,
speaks quietly to his children,
begins to live once more.

- John Haines


Coffee Messiah said...

Thanks for sharing these.
While living in the bay area, I'd stop at the Caffe Trieste most days and once a month I'd go to City Lights to pick a book up. LF carried books from other countries and writers that no one else in the area did at the time.

He'd almost always be seen in his office upstairs if you ever went to look at the 2nd floor.

A most friendly man and great writer.

I'm sorry I never said anything but hello. I never wanted to bother him and I'm sure he would have taken the time to chat a wee bit.

Cheers! Stay cool!

jimb said...

Hey LJ, is there a way to PM you here? Sorry this is probably not the place for this.

Stan Denski said...

jimb, apparantly no so email me at