Saturday, April 12, 2008

SORRY, BARACK

I'm not quite there yet. Just working off rage about the latest political fracas. I understand why Obama's words about "middle America" were seen as condescending. But...I guess I'm next to him on the condescension train, because I agree with what I think he was trying to say.

What irks me most is this tendency to look for every possible slight in every possible utterance of the candidates. I'm not expressing this annoyance well--either here or in today's poem--but it's about appearance versus substance: both the appearance of eloquent perfection the candidates are pressured to maintain and the appearance of moral rectitude so many Americans, middle and otherwise, flaunt.

SORRY, BARACK

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
--Robert Frost


In Jamaica, the locals called the new resort
the zoo—the place where they locked up
the animals. In America, we lock up

Homo sapiens and Pan troglodytes alike
in favor of architecture: solid vinyl,
through-and-through color integrity,

lifetime guarantee, glossy and uniform
and impermeable enough,
when the next holocaust comes,

to float their dry selves down
to the waters under the earth. They are safe
as houses, wrapped in the Tyvek of assumptions

shingled over with all that is right and proper.
Suffocate every inhabitant with insulation
but, pray you, don’t scratch the fa├žade.

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