9/30/20: Democracy Disoriented #poetry #PresidentialDebate
I usually have a context for this sort of thing
and my personal experience of how people behave
I respond viscerally
and then employ reason to sort everything out
So I feel it
and I think about it
and then something opens up
and I write it down
It all flows out
Then I read it out loud
make some changes
clerical or substantive
I get some sort of feeling that the writing is ready
and I send it out
and then I arrange all the separate entries into a greater whole
sometimes writing wrap around notes
sometimes simply assembling them in creative order.
I was briefly at sea
with millions of other people
I was watching the debate between Trump and Biden
I had no intention to write about it
What more was there to say about Trump?
He ruined another thing that I enjoy
A Presidential Debate
Of course he did
He hates democracy
He doesn’t run for office
He seizes power
or tries to …
I wasn’t confused by Trump
I had his number from day one in 2015
He didn’t do anything at that debate that he didn’t do at the first Trump rally
I wondered how he would be received after that horror movie last night
Would the people who pay attention to the direction of our lives for a couple of weeks every four years,
the half-assed Americans
who work nine jobs and get drunk all weekend
watch porn and football
and terrorize their wives and kids,
the ones who never read a book and know everything,
the rude obnoxious ones
the ones who make your trip to the drugstore
or the produce market
the ones who suck at everything that they do
the ones that you have to explain your order to nine times
and then they expect an apology from you,
the ones that are always annoyed and bothered,
the ones who call any act of kindness “socialism” …
will these trashy idiots
in coalition their white collar allies
who would endorse the second coming of Auschwitz
if it meant another percentage point in interest on their 401(K)
would this mob of mendacious, mean-spirited morons
See Trump as strong
and Biden as old and weak?
Would they get it all wrong again?
Can you tell that I don’t trust them at all anymore?
was it still all OK?
Republican pols went on TV and predicted a landslide against …
The instant polls all slaughtered Trump
Why does this catastrophe jump the shark now?
What took everybody so long?
Have you no decency, sirs and madams? At long last …
Maybe Trump is right
I was a sucker
I used to think that people were as smart and as decent as I am
and they often disappoint
I should be an average Joe
but I am in an elite
They make me look like a cross between Einstein and St. Francis of Assisi
And how many times over the years was I like Biden in the debate
working with them
trying to talk with them
Being different but trying to engage in a common activity
I think everyone is finally fed up now
I’m sick of always waiting for everybody to catch up.
I did my part
I have no shame or regrets.
Not this time.
I saw what this was
I saw what the stakes were right away
and I stood against it
From day one
in real time
I was not indifferent
and too busy with unimportant things
like my fellow citizens
And I lived my convictions
not like many who opposed Trump
but acted just like him in other ways
How mediocre our schools and theaters and neighborhoods have become
marred by vanity
Places of petty competition
when we could be living in an Athens
of art, science and democracy
How insecure the shells of what we used to call our communities are
We are forced to be scavengers on the ruins of America
The first things that reopened after the pandemic lockdown last spring,
that response to mass tormenting lonely death
that response to our paralyzing diseased air
our isolation from the very stuff of our lives,
were the bars —
way too early …
They just couldn’t wait to get back to the fucking bars
They had to have a drink
and a witless laugh
All that they worry about is making a buck
and having a little fun
They are so committed to the illusion of fun
but when you look at them at play
you see nothing resembling fun
You see a desperation to have “friends”, to be active, to be popular, to be doing something “social”, to be hip, to be cool, to be comforted in a phony way — it’s not real warmth or compassionate concern — it is self-medication …
the purposeless pursuit of purposelessness
the meaningless rejection of meaning
People with as much regard for the quality of their lives as they would for a used Kleenex
America became Wrigleyville after a Cubs game
Drunk, inconsiderate and stupid
talking loudly and blocking traffic as it aimlessly stumbled in the streets.
In a strange way
Trump unconsciously held up the mirror to America at the debate last night
He’s a performance artist and he doesn’t always know what he is saying
Last night he said — “look — look at what you are
You don’t look anything like how you think you look
you look like me”
and undeserving of democracy.
You have to have a brain and be concerned about your fellow man to deserve democracy.
Now the masses are embarrassed
That was the last straw
The biggest liar in the world told them the truth about themselves
They see their psychotic break
in a stage play
improvised by a monster.
They are ready to crucify the Anti-Christ.
But will they ever face themselves or will they make their rejection of Trump another act of weird denial?
They will change in little surface ways
but they’ll never make the deep changes that are required.
I don’t hold them in contempt.
I hold them in sorrow.
Trump once held that mirror up to them
before the inevitable disasters became obvious even to some of them
and they liked the reflection that Trump showed them …
He said they were powerful
and smarter than the people who wanted to teach them things
He said they were right to want to party all the time
and that concern about other people was for pussies
“You want the money
nothing else matters
the poets and the scientists can fuck off
let’s get high and laid
and never talk about a serious goddam thing …”
Trump is shrill
and the other people
the imperfect human beings
who weren’t as clear as I have been since 2015
but knew something was wrong
but also believed that normality was still present
that America was still breathing
were represented by Biden,
who finally realized that there is no democratic discourse that is possible with these disfigured souls
whose habits have turned them into monsters
Biden checked out during the debate
He receded and withdrew
which was the human thing to do under the circumstances
Relationships cannot endure such disrespect
The fairy tale that we are one country
that we discuss and decide
was put to bed last night.
That’s something that is over
and has to be brought back to life.
The Trump phenomenon
and the Republican Party
have to be tranquilized and removed
But I said all of this in 2015
why didn’t you listen?
Why don’t you listen whenever anyone says something that is true?
Why do you chirp — everyone wants to tell a story in linear fashion — taking their turn and not really listening to what the next person has to say?
Careening from sensation to sensation, ego stroke to ego stroke — when the truth floats by you in the stream of collective consciousness festooned with neon lights …
the truth is everywhere
but your refuse to recognize it because you think it diminishes you
the sage in retirement
the ordinary saint
the insightful intellectual of a low status
You distrust them
You set up an admissions board
puffed up by your power to let them in
You have a moral obligation to honor the truth.
Why does it always take this tragedy?
Why do so many people have to die?
All of this suffering
and then things start to change because everyone gets embarrassed
and finally recognizes the futility of their wasted motion
and prepares their own denial of any culpability at all
the dissolution of ego is needed
how far does it have to go?
It makes me sick
It was no act of genius
to see how stupid and lousy all of this was
I thought I would feel relieved
on the day that I knew that the Trump era was ending
but I actually feel
and a little pissed off.
It’s not hard to see clearly what’s right in front of you
You just have to be honest
and to spend a minute
not worrying about how you are going to get over
Politics is our collective lives
You have an obligation
All of the distractions and excuses
the petty activities
when fascism came to America
Get it together.
Anyone can be a prophet
You just have to be honest with yourself and others.
Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas