Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Garden of Poetry: Election Fever, Too Hot, Too Soon

Does it have to be about the money? All about the money.
            It's October, one whole year plus part of a month before the next Presidential election, but according to all the major media -- and the candidates' own campaign postings -- our future is being decided right now.
            That's not because of the presidential primaries. They don't start until 2016. But for months already -- months -- we've been told that what the candidates are saying, or not saying, doesn't really matter all that much. Their poll numbers matter somewhat, but what matters more than anything else, almost to the exclusion of anything else, is how much money they are raising for their campaigns.
            Consider a typical front-page story in yesterday's New York Times, headlined "Which Presidential Candidates Are Winning the Money Race." The story analyzes which campaigns have the strongest chance to persevere based on how money they've raised so far, and in the last three months. The crucial facts: "Hillary Rodham Clinton raised $29.9 million for her campaign in the third quarter, just ahead of Bernie Sanders, who raised $26.2 million."
            (Here's the link:
            American democracy in the 21st century? It's about the money.
            I wrote a poem responding to the constant appeals for money many of us are receiving these days from candidates. And not only the major presidential candidates. From candidates for key Senate and Congressional districts, especially in so-called "contested," "closely watch" races in "battleground" states and districts. Some of these heart-rending, breathless, life-or-death appeals come from candidates I've never heard of, from states I can't vote in.
            That is, I can't vote for these people. But I can -- thanks to the current American political system, the Supreme Court, and the billionaires and corporations who dominate American policy making -- give money to them. So which really matters? Voting? Or money.
            My poetic fantasy protest to this outrageous state of affairs is the poem, titled "From Out of the Inbox," in which I ask the apparently ridiculous question "isn't there some other way in which we can show our support for candidates who represent our views and aspirations for life in these United States?"
            It appears in the October issue of Verse-Virtual. Here's the link:

            From Out of the Inbox

I delete the forty-two solicitations for campaign donations
from the little people
to combat the rivers of invisible money spewed
by the other side's billionaires
Our billionaires apparently are not so fluent

We are 'the little people'
I see us hurrying off to work
carrying our battered briefcases, umbrellas exploding in
the storms of autumn, freezing our tushes
on the frozen sidewalks in the winter of the century,
scampering beneath the heavy boots
and skyscraper legs of the corporate storm-troopers

Why can we fight money only with more of the same?
Why can't we donate paper flowers,
old Valentines with crayoned kisses, children's report cards with
the A's circled, clever bowls of kale salad
the smiles of knee-high nieces coaxed by frequent application
of sugary liquids,
pencil-worn scorecards with the names of diamond idols
seen now only in the studio wrap-up
lamenting that hanging slider in the top of the seventh?

Why does the permanent political class
expect to get paid when the only interest
served by marathon campaign carnivals
that crowd the air with Ferris wheels of denigration
and roller-coasters of paid duplicity
is their own?

I walk in a garden of video promises
digital invitations with sticky fingers
breath-taking ascents to rhetorical prospects where the air is thin
transitory surveys, singular snapshots of
a moving stream of media eventualities

in which we float, we little people,
on folded paper boats carrying our little piles
of GW's portrait, we pioneers of vox populi percuniae
praying for pennies from heaven
when the rainbow coalition is enuf