Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Poetry Tuesday: "History's Chalkboards"

I awoke this morning to read that Trump has fired the attorney general--as we play the "What president does Trump resemble today?" game, Nixon comes to mind.

I wondered what poem I might have in my archives for the morning after the firing of the attorney general, but I was very young during Nixon's time.  I have other poems for other grim situations, which no doubt I'll get to use eventually.

I wrote the following poem in August as the campaign season ramped into high gear. I couldn't get the Sylvia Plath quote out of my head. Did I read Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains" before I wrote it?  I think I was writing it, and the title came to me, and I looked it up and proceeded to read it.

This morning, I find the reference to the violence and societal upheaval of the 60's (the fire next time) to be both alarming and comforting.  We have been here before, and a better society emerged out of those ashes.  Perhaps we will be that fortunate again.  Perhaps we will survive the societal winnowing again.

History’s Chalkboards

“Every woman adores a Fascist,  
The boot in the face, the brute  
Brute heart of a brute like you.”
                            “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath

Every woman adores a Fascist.
Turns out men do too.
But we imagine the boot
on someone else’s face,
a face that doesn’t look
like ours, the face that arrives
to take our jobs and steal
our factories, while laughing
at us in a foreign language.

No God but capitalism,
the new religion, fascism disguised
as businessman, always male,
always taking what is not his.

Brute heart, not enough stakes
to keep you dead. 
We thought we had vanquished
your kind permanently last century
or was it the hundred years before?

As our attics crash into our basements,
what soft rains will come now?
The fire next time,
the ashes of incinerated bodies,
the seas rising on a tide
of melted glaciers.

And so we return to history’s chalkboard,
the dust of other lessons in our hair.
We make our calculations.

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