Saturday, April 2, 2011

A poem by Barbaria Maria 3/2011

Identity Theft (for the workers, artists, poets of Maine-many of whom are one & the same)


America, I hear you gasping,
mugged. Your home, your job,
your pension, your unions, your history,
your art. And when even
the memory of these is gone,
how will you stir? For what? For poetry.

Because poetry is not the ex-mayor
or the next mayor or the governor.
Poetry is not a Koch brother but what he heard
a neighbor say when he was eight and how his collar
scratches the back of his neck when he’s nervous
or how the light swept across his kitchen counter this morning.

Poetry is queen and king and everything,
the small gust of air from a battery powered
pocket fan that helps Betty
catch her breath when she reels
toward the floor on the company production line
after a double shift because a rag
got mangled in one of the machines
dispersing itself into hundreds of donuts
the first time around. Poetry is breath.

Poetry is not the talk, talk, talk,
or the big bloated idea
pushing a bad transaction,
but the other eye watching,
the ear making note of how words
that look like they’re going somewhere
start twisting backward to the opposite of truth,
and wrap around the throat.



Poetry is not the crosshairs
marking an Arizona Saturday
that coughs blood for lunch,
but the scope of things to come,
the angle begging the future
to slide toward us unharmed.
Poetry is not bodies dropping on the street
but the last thing they touched,
a rayon sleeve, a folded paper falling,
a hammered silver spiral pin below the collar.

Poetry is hunger, a thirst
rising off the lips of workers.
Poetry is spit and beauty.
Poetry is DNA. Our history
in minute detail. Was it yellow or gold,
cloth or plastic the little dog charm
she kept in her left pocket?

Was it blueberry pie your grandmother baked?
Try to remember?

America I hear you gasping, mugged.
Get some air, before you drift
unconscious and wake up jangling
with the sticky spare change
in the corporate cat’s pocket,
a legal alien in another world
than the one you were born in.
Get some air,
look for a detail you remember.
Count on the poetry.

Because poetry is not the ex-mayor
or the next mayor or the governor.
Poetry is not a Koch brother or a bank.
Poetry is queen and king and everything.
Poetry is oxygen.
©Barbaria Maria 3/2011

3 comments:

Verandah said...

Hurrah Barbaria Maria for this passionate, timeless poem, from a sister over the border in Vermont.

Wendy Newbold Patterson said...

Yes, I really like your poem, too. It is really hard to grasp all of the fragile, yet powerful things that are being challenged and threatened by the political steam-roller heading our direction. Your poem caught some of that dismay that I feel. Thank you for giving voice. That is Art's job.

CeeCee said...

What a beautiful and inspired reminder of what is and of what is not.