Sunday, July 4, 2010

Listening to fireworks


-- by David Baker

Yesterday a little girl got slapped to death by her daddy,
out of work, alcoholic, and estranged two towns down river.
America, it's hard to get your attention politely.
America, the beautiful night is about to blow up

and the cop who brought the man down with a shot to the chops
is shaking hands, dribbling chaw across his sweaty shirt,
and pointing to cars across the courthouse grass to park.
It's the Big One one more time, July the 4th,

our country's perfect holiday, so direct a metaphor for war
we shoot off bombs, launch rockets from Drano cans,
spray the streets and neighbors' yards with the machine-gun crack
of fireworks, with rebel yells and beer. In short, we celebrate.

It's hard to believe. But so help the soul of Thomas Paine,
the entire country must be here-the acned faces of neglect,
the halter-tops and ties, the bellies, badges, beehives,
jacked-up cowboy boots, yes, the back-up singers of democracy

all gathered to brighten in unambiguous delight
when we attack the calm pointless sky. With terrifying vigor
the whistle-stop across the river will lob its smaller arsenal
halfway back again. Some may be moved to tears.

We'll clean up fast, drive home slow, and tomorrow
get back to work, those of us with jobs, convicting the others
in the back rooms of our courts and malls--yet what
will be left of that one poor child, veteran of no war

but her family's own? The comfort of a welfare plot,
a stalk of wilting prayers? Our fathers' dreams come true as nightmare.
So the first bomb blasts and echoes through the streets and shrubs:
red, white, and blue sparks shower down, a plague

of patriotic bugs. Our thousand eyeballs burn aglow like punks.
America, I'd swear I don't believe in you, but here I am,
and here you are, and here we stand again, agape.

Read this poem and others at Poets Against War


  1. Thanks iw - I often read the news emanating from your continent, and despair. Then I read your blog (and others) and feel relief when you reaffirm that there are many who do care. It is so sad that the news media - at least the filtered view that I get of it - seem to provide such a distorted picture of who the American people actually are.

  2. Brett, thanks for your comment. If you spent some time here, in the right (or perhaps the wrong) areas, you would hear plenty of Americans spew stuff that even the news media wouldn't broadcast, it's so vile. "America" is still a stupid teenager in many respects.

  3. As Michael Moore so aptly put it, "I can't stand to live in a place like this, and I ain't leaving."

  4. And I don't suppose I can be high-and-mighty about it ... the same would go for this neck of the woods, and possibly every other corner of the world.

  5. I couldn't think of a comment when I read this earlier.

    I still can't think of anything to say.

  6. There are so many truths in this, which I wholeheartedly agree with. And like Doug, I'm not even sure what to say. So I will ramble through it.

    America has sorely disappointed me. I believe nothing that I started out believing as an adult.

    We pretend to be free, but we aren't in truth...we congratulate one another for imposing our will on others and call it patriotism in the name of freedom...and we are a brutal bunch, especially toward those who are not the same as we.

    Instead of changing as a result of the sixties and seventies, as I thought it would, it has gotten worse. I'm not even sure who is to blame, beyond the usual suspects. I suppose we all are.

    No doubt I have added to the pile of manure that we've created here but, somehow I can't find MY culpability...seriously, I really can't.

    America, stupid for sure, but rather than being a teenager is instead a fat old free enterprise whore...for money and self gratification...and we the people are the whore's Johns. It's not going to change. If it doesn't end in violence, I will be very surprised.

    The tragedy? We caused our own demise. There are not enough of us outraged methinks.

    RIP America...YOU have beaten your children to death.

  7. Mr. C - On the other hand, I myself have thought about leaving, many times, since 1980 as a matter of fact.

    Doug - You, speechless? ;-)

    Jaded - America the country is a youngster; and like teenagers, believes it is immortal, that no harm can come to it despite the stupid things it does.

  8. Apparently the comment gremlin has been here also.

    My comment: I yield.

  9. Ah...comment gremlin. I like that explanation. It is more agreeable than beliving I mucked something up :-)


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