Poetry, what an exquisite distraction;
a meditation: on its own moment of creation,
a moment culturally/historically in time,
and on the instrument of our voice.
Oh, what minefields one must sidestep
to bravely type each day.
And, oh, the stones upon which we step:
alliteration, rhyme if you like,
the cogs and springs of diction:
A pentatonic scale with which we might
get that sucker hummin, to jam right alongside
the big names, humans all
their breath: a familiar rise and fall
their fears and foibles for which poems
are but a fig leaf in a stiff, winter wind.
Oh, poetry, save us all with a few words each day.
We, who wake up and scroll upon our phones
past tragedy and diversion alike
at an average thumb speed
of so many swipes per minute.
Let us boldly grasp for a handful of words
arranged according to line breaks
before each day’s fresh tremors of dawn.
Let us praise the poet Amanda Gorman.
A bright sunrise, in her brave blazer, ascending the steps
of our nation’s capitol during a dark time.
Let us praise her alliteration
and her trust in a discursive mind.
Let us acknowledge that she allowed herself to be led by sound
and a deep trust (along with an equal, earned mistrust) in her country and its people.
Let us praise the poet Amanda Gorman
for showing us how possible it is to be the right poet in the right place
at the right time with the right words to steady the soul of a nation
and steer its conscience according to a better star.
For she is our people! How primed she was;
writing in secret in those weeks prior to the inauguration,
leaning on her years of skill and her own internal purpose.
Let us do the same, all of us, each toward our own particular moments.
In your minds now, I ask you to think of your moment as well...
the steps you might ascend, in your brave blazer,
armed with alliteration, a discursive mind
and actions of subversive kindness and deliberate intent.
That is why I stand here to praise Amanda Gorman, one of us...
a poet in the right place at the right time with the right words
to steady the soul of a nation and steer its conscience
according to a better star.
Look . . . at what we’ve destroyed for love.
Love: what we’ve protected, nurtured and grown
while the world has crumbled at our feet.
Look at what we’ve destroyed for the love of what we love . . .
the trust betrayed . . . all our entitlements.
Look at what we’ve loved:
Our pride and dominion over this patch of life.
But now, I don’t mean to be a buzzkill
but geez, how hopeless it all seems
Now, as the tides are rising in our seas
. . . all the tossed aside species
it’s as if the conscience of public radio
we’ve been ignoring all this time
that nagging ask for some form of pledge
any paltry pocket change
we may have tossed in that direction was not enough
and we knew it all along
whistling towards extinction
us Boomers: we who held what we love
above all that we will be accounted for
We can turn our face away from you now,
as if offended by smug, political correctness,
but as we’re hanging up our tie at the end of the day
we’ll know, our conscience will remind us . . .
Look! Look at what we’ve destroyed for love.