Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry
I love your poem insisting good will return,
we have to have faith. But now is
bad. At the Foreign Film Festival Awards
the filmmaker of The Road to Guantanamo
broke down on stage, mid-acceptance speech, and sobbed.
And didn’t stop sobbing. Maybe
this is the revolution, that we all break down
crying and do not stop.
The next day three men at Guantanamo Bay
were found hanged and a poet friend took the opportunity
to inform me of my lifelong misuse of hung for hanged.
I didn’t want to believe this
especially for my published poems. But the headlines
confirmed the King’s English:
3 Terror Suspects Found Hanged
I like what you say, they’re just idiots, not evil. Just
going for the bucks (the proper English). But these days
the opposite keeps insisting: this is a well-planned,
long-planned coup. What do we do
about those just going for the bucks?
My daughter called me to her laptop
to show me Guantanamo after our first Afghanistan war.
Hundreds of young men hogtied face down,
so shocking I still marvel that any of us are still standing.
Maybe this is the revolution, that we all break down
and don’t get up.
My grandfather was the hangman of Globe, Arizona.
Disinherited by his Confederate father
for marrying my grandmother whose grandfather was Union
his training to be a doctor cut short, but which got him, starving,
the only job he could find, he hanged his fellow man
for bucks, ruining himself and assuring
the ongoing family ruin, especially our bucks, our English.
Maybe the revolution is finding the names
of everyone he hanged (tell me again, O King of my tongue, I
hang a man, I hanged a man, I hung a bunch. Tell me
the good your proper is.
Maybe the war would end if we all start wailing
like the women at the funerals of their children we’ve bombed.
Like the women who haven’t taken off their black clothes in years
because every time the mourning is completed, another love is killed.
Maybe the revolution is to tear at our clothes, to screech
and wail, fall on our backs, everyone gone mad
like the Afghani man this week
with his car in our streets, the blood
running in the streets, maybe
that’s the revolution, tears
like labor that can’t be stopped
crying and crying, the whole world
not getting up. Imagine that sound, everyone sobbing, that
correct language, tears running
maybe that’s the revolution
the tears running the tears running in
the tears running in the streets
for Aggie Falk who said just as I was drafting this poem: “Just go out and stand in the street. I know this, I know this would work.”
for Alan Scouten who wrote the same moment: “If I could speak to an audience for 3 minutes on Sunday I would ask for a chanted prayer. Not silence, I would ask that we wail and tear our clothes as they do.”
Copyright 2014 Sharon Doubiago. First published in Fightin Words, 25 years of Provocative Poetry and Prose from “The Blue Collar” PEN, Heyday Books, Berkeley, 2014. Reprinted by permission of Sharon Doubiago.