Sorry to bombard you
and that gets me thinking.
Now war, no matter
how good it feels
now and then,
is never a good idea. It never works
no matter how many thousand shiplike songs it’s launched.
But what I get thinking is we could do with some poems
like small arms fire; we could do
with the kind of violence poetry works
the kinds of exit wound it leaves
on the best of us and even
upon the shallow and the fanatical and afraid;
we could do with an invasion plan with no exit
strategy and I know
where we should land.
Let’s set up a munitions factory and make
poems smarter than bombs;
let’s wire them and target them
at the tone deaf and the greedy and the mean.
Let’s wage poetry
like guerilla war;
let’s mime the market place
and march on the capital with metaphors;
let’s blow the bastards apart
and claim the world they think they own
for the holiness of the Heart’s affections and
the truth of the Imagination.
Could we disarm the enemy—
which is to say ourselves—
with lines as killing
as the loveliest woman
the most innocent child
the bluest line of distant hills
one is ever likely to see this side of heaven?
Could we find the corroded circuitry
in the corrupted program
of the dishevelled and shining computer
where all the doggerel of power
and the platitudes of plenty are composed;
and could we enjamb the lines of
code in which are encrypted the idiocies
we are told
Surely we could find the enemy’s front gates
they can’t be far from here
and send a wooden horse
or something more up-to-date
like a plastic horse
and pull its string and make it sing
its irresistible promises
of eternal youth
and faster connection times
and better returns on one’s investment
in fuller lips and longer dicks
and my family first
and tougher border protection
and other great democratic values
so that the sharp-minded guards who have no time for memory
are taken in and take it in
and ignore it.
And we could fill it lullabies
and villanelles and tropes
which would pour out like Greeks
and take the city at night like a gift
while it lies there in dreams of prosperity
frowning now and then
at the horror of another rise in interest rates.
Let’s take every house and steeple
and let’s drop sonnets everywhere and run
iambic pentameters up the flagpoles.
And let’s have every sleeper wake.
Let’s catch the pompous and the fearful
the extreme and the thoughtless
and let’s not exclude ourselves
in the crossfire of eternal lines
And yet all of us might die and rise again disfigured
and transfigured all at once by the rhythm
of beautiful sense and sensible beauty
but what aubades or elegies will sing the ice back
upon the polar caps or the snow back
upon the peaks or the carbons back
into the swamps where they were born
and where we first began
on finding them
to die? What liturgy
will reconcile the unmade earth
with us again and what smart prayer
will ever win the old and colder weather back?