Sunday, May 26, 2013

Monuments and Memorials


Monuments and Memorials

Until yesterday, the past lived behind us,
     Treading through history,
Yearning for the next generation,
      Lording lessons
Taught by men who walked barefoot on mortars
      Seeking imperfect good,
      Dug into trenches, inching:
            Away from tyranny,
            Away from hate,
            Away from oppression,
                  Awkwardly.

Until today, the future lied before us,
      Alternating plain truth
With the brandished inconvenience of
       Hypocrisy
Cloaked in patriotism and parades
      For heroes yet to come,
      Marching Westward until:
           West encroached upon East,
           West circled round,
            West promised destiny,
                  Manifest.

Until tomorrow, presence lingers with us,
      Complicating sure hope
With legitimate disappointment
      In pained failures,
Tempered with unsullied optimism.
      Our obsessive pastime:
      Memorializing Monuments on
           Memorials built upon
           Monuments to our
           Memorials:
                History saluting tomorrow's
                     Yesterdays:
                             Our gift:
                                   Our present.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Hundred Hundred Hundreds


A Hundred Hundred Hundreds




Tell me about a million:
A hundred hundred hundreds.

Tell me about the miles,
It took for George Washington
And the Continentals, from
            Boston to New York;
From McConkey's Ferry
            To Trenton
            On Christmas night
In the first year.

Tell me about the men,
Who fought for liberty
And then for Union
            Against secession,
Against abominations,
            Like tariffs
            And human bondage,
In the next first year.

Tell me about the words
That pile up in looming heaps,
In books of fickle history,
            Away from the birth
In spite of institutions--
            Like freedoms--
            Bought then forgot
In the third first year.
 
A hundred hundred hundreds
Since the first year's
Celebrations and emendations
            And self-righteous
            Back-patting;
Paid in: 
             Millions of miles marched,
                        From Democracy to Federalism,
             Men lost,
                        In wars at home and distant,
             And words forsaken,
                        On burned and yellowed parchment.
             Two hundreds barely,
                        More or less,
Since the first year.
 
Now tell me about a billion.
Now tell me about a trillion:
A million millions.