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October 6, 2013

Under the Care of Tyrants

tyrantsWe learned the alphabet backwards
until it hurt from much laughter.
This is the way it is to be ordinary.
This is heaven where you’re exalted
by leadership.

     You know you’re part
of his history alone, and it’s often more
than you bargained for, you in your
fake Nikes. May as well go to Seoul.
Have a vacation. Return only as a hero
to flashbulbs, before paying for the cart.
Your luggage a premium, always.
Only the great padrino may decide
to exempt anyone from age-old customs.

We learned our songs in much the same
way they did in Romania or Yugoslavia.
But our soil was as weak as tears for
escorting a despot to where the torn
lyrics of our days and nights bade deposit.

Better a nation of martyrs than shopkeepers.
Better one disaster after another, to polish
the hand of mercy.

      For generations we heard
loudspeakers in plazas with a grandstand,
a dead man’s statue, a basketball court
to dry grains in the sun, for beauty in Maytime.
We can’t expect much but salt or sardine,
a time for prayer to lift us on bad days,
some television to keep us from darkness
of engagement. We are content with knobs,
dials. The children still play with kites,
on good days learn to wait for proper wind,
tug of heart.

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