Thursday Night Poetry

Getting in just in under the wire, this time with one of my own. This is a relatively new piece, and not related to my work on Jehovah's Witnesses. I wrote it while working with a student at Stanford--we were reading Philip Larkin at the time and it reawakened some of my latent formalism and linked up with some of my not-so-latent politics.

Gone
after Philip Larkin


I thought that it would last my time
as well, but now I have my doubts
that we can make it past this latest cry
of “Empire!” without losing out

on what might once have been. We are
not exceptional, not that we
ever were, except in legend-
makers’ mouths, our Founding Fathers

only real as Arthur, El Cid,
the Seven Samurai, Ah-nold.
Our myths are real to us, but still
they are but allegory. Now

we start to pay the price: belief.
Belief in what we thought we were—
saviors, fair, just, and then the biggie,
moral—and yet absurd belief

is what has brought us here, to this
time when quicksilver runs
in rivers and refineries
spill toxic chemicals in tons

into lakes where homes once protected
by levee and canal now sink
into silt that even when dry
will grow nothing for years, will stink,

this time where protest, a voice raised
is called treason by reckless cowards
who send others to do their will.
This is nothing that hasn’t come

before; it wasn’t reality
I thought would last beyond my time,
just the illusion. It’s possible
we’ll stay fooled. I hope I’m wrong.

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