I wrote the following while recovering from major surgery. I think it is if anything more relevant now than it was in ’04.
ODE: JANUARY, 2004
There is a national rhythm for each nation
Which abused gives rise to great fatigue;
Rhythm which like the national flag must be
Used sparingly. All else is emptiness
Filling non-existence with non-existence,
A country’s broken melody, silently
Keeping no time, out of time, silent,
And never more than as war roars.
Where harmony might be, is discontent;
Where a nation’s rhythm might be found
Is found instead great national weariness.
There is no song a poet might sing, right now.
Instead, brute earless ignorance would war
Against a winter’s weary world, pretending
to call the dance.
Stars will remember,
As years passed by;
Stars will remember,
And so will I:
Leaving a highway
For a street;
Leading a street
For a road,
Singing against the howl
Of black freezing wind;
Singing against the howl,
Coming home again,
And home again,
And children are found where shadows
Falling from shattered walls and windows
Exile the light, growing up never knowing
Flowers are calling unto a day of distance,
Wind and wild. Here too is rubble
Shored against ruins. Beloved poets,
Memory indeed shows so little respect
Before the look of a land, this season;
And ill fares a land, to hastening
Ills a prey, where wealth accumulates
Only for war, a world marked only for
Death, a people marked only for fear,
A people marked, for decay. Now,
All are tired and afraid, and I too
thirst, I thirst
But who was Democritus, after all?
Another human, all too human, ash
On air, at last. What was Alexandria,
After all, but scrolls in flames?
Tibet? Tibet? What is one Buddha
Cut into stone, before the newest
Truest shatter of maddened belief?
Old Savoy women still start morning
Fires with Corot rolls, Mayan bark
Libraries long gone ash on air and
Now? The latest dogs of war are loosed
On Baghdad of prehistory and artifact
To win the hearts and minds of all
A country’s crippledom. Now, see
The latest Ozymandias — cruel cold
sneer turned lying
Re-read and re-dug. A spade is a spade and I call’m too like that even if it makes everybody uncomfortable. So, . . . . life for me is constantly revealing itself as joker; filled with little and huge ironies to delight in and ponder how incredible and strange this world we live in is. Were you aware of the Call of Duty add at the end of your polemical? The irony is ugly and its in our face here. What good is democracy if all that is left are a bunch of brutes. Good for the ones in power. The masses keep re-telling a fable of “America” like religion. Even I get a warm feeling when I say “America,. . . .America . . lets say it ten times. I did not study the classics. But I feel awake. Preoccupation is a form of sleep. Lots of different things to occupy ones time. Message pumping from the t.v. is like “Hello Kitty” compared to todays abilities. People are easy to rule if they believe that they are the ones in charge. We will lap up the tripe every time if it’s sprinkled with a little “America” though quite possibly rotten from the start.
This internet thing might be opening up great possibilities for a few. But counterintuitively, it is narrowing for most. And now we tweet on the facebook phone to be “liked” To be liked by most, Another great way for the hoard to re- affirm that they are the ones steering the boat. Not so. not ever so. Not in the past. Not in the future. Not ever.
Wonderful; Ode to january 2004