Tuesday, April 17, 2007

And Now This



A kid who keeps his eye on God
is much to be preferred to one
who’s tubed out or on the nod,
unless the former has a gun.

The nicest people go berserk
for no apparent reason here,
another baffling national quirk,
like heavy cars, light beer.

A slaughtered family’s genre news:
the sensible suburban body bags,
the neighbors gathered to review
the ritual removal, the sag

and moan at gurneys going by,
and always the owlish loner Sonny
casts a genuinely puzzled eye
on all the fuss at what he’s done.

Murder is our national art.
We love its methods and its tools;
the theory’s graven in our hearts
before we’re old enough for school.

We’re acknowledged masters of a form:
the empty existential gesture,
random, public firestorm,
the quasiterrorist disaster

undefiled by politics,
pure of motive, but for the yen
of yet another lone, virtuosic
nut to be the News at Ten.

The planetary perpetrators
mean their doings to be newsy,
live docu-sieges catered
by Kalashnikov and Uzi.

(Our M-16’s been known to jam
when everything is on the line;
good enough for Viet Nam,
a silly risk in prime time.)

Any act of mindless hate
on any public thoroughfare
will make our viewers stay up late:
catastrophe is market share.

Any senseless act of violence,
any vision out of hell,
will always find an audience,
and audience will always sell.

So welcome, children of Fatah.
Coca colonels, send your minions;
hail, saints of Hezbollah:
spray the studios with billions.

3 comments:

Minx said...

I am never sure what makes me feel sicker - the actual horrifying event, or the media circus that follows. It's a close run thing.
I always thought lessons were there to be learnt - I am so stupid sometimes.

Debi said...

John - you're a genius. A fast-working genius at that. It takes most people much longer to gain the kind of perspective you've shown here. Respect!

John said...

Actuall, Debi--much as I'd like to accept the compliment--this is an old poem. Unfortunately. I'd get it out and read it with each new incident, but never changed it. Thanks, though, anyway.

You aren't stupid, Minx. It's basic sanity that makes us feel that way.