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Page 155

The Sleep of Nations

My friends are taking sides: which candidate?
I join in, make good points, go blank...it's late.
I'll think this through tomorrow. Now I'll sleep...

In shallow currents tossed, can't reach that deep
Dark empty reassurance; no, this blankness
Spawns dreams as slipp'ry as the studied frankness
Of politicians; endless arguments
That shrink and stretch and twist to fit events --

Events that, clothed in logic, melt away
(Each witness sees a different crime; each day
Dies with its headlines' din), leaving a pile
Of logic, proving either choice too vile
To contemplate: A pile of rumpled thought,

And in the mazes of our hearing, caught,
The echo of the last shriek of events:
"O! What a wicked world!" We start to sense
We're not in Kansas anymore. Each claim
Is linked to sticky web-sites, each the same
As every other in its certainty,

Insider scoops, dismissive punditry,
Its pack of subtle facts that others miss --
But you and I are now elite, they hiss:
We know the Truth. WHICH truth? Do all sides lie?

Where nations roll in sleep, their children die.
We, Godlike, will determine with one vote
Who lives? Lard logic with authoritative quote...

I cannot dream this dream -- if I awake,
Will morning still be there? Will songbirds break
Dream logic into shards of colored glass? --
The daily news sunk, dew-sopped, in the grass?

Note: When the news (TV, paper and Internet) blurs to sameness, that, too, becomes a blankness. The way reported events slip away from us (hard to discern among conflicting reports, soon forgotten), but leave behind their asserted logic, the sense that we know something (we no longer recall how we know it – just something everyone knows, so there must be something to it) – I compare the rumpled left-over logic (devoid of specific experience or events we've actually experienced ourselves) to the clothes left by the wicked witch after Dorothy pours a bucket of water over her, and she melts, screaming "What a world! What a world!" During the 2004 presidential campaign, I watched friends (and myself at times) convinced from articles on various websites that they had the real truth of one side or the other, drunk on data, it seemed. Any cool morning, noticed, blew away such pseudo-certainties, like Alice's pack of cards. (Still, there are several politicians I wish would blow away as easily. Not that I suggest anyone should blow them away. The winds of change should suffice, poor platitude that they are.)

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