A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
He argued like a champ, best of breed.
You gave him his assumptions, you were dead.
Or later claim he’d said something daft
and he’d repeat verbatim, first to last,
the whole debate: “See? I said no such thing.”
He hadn’t. I hated that. Worse, his citing,
when badly cornered, a statistic or other fact
that blew away assertion, turned attack.
“But sixty-eight per cent of voters say,
according to a Gallup poll, that they
prefer the Government to take this path.”
And how the hell did he remember that?
I asked him once. He said he made it up
and grinned, shrugging slightly. Why that’s corrupt!
“But easy. Like starting rumors. Choose a source
beyond reproach, keep the thesis short,
then add a figure, high, but not too high.
We trust the social scientific lie—
numbers have authority.” I lost
my faith, just then, in facts. Even honest
data seemed untrue. Who’d asked and how?
I’d never thought to think before, but now—
one counted cows, but count someone’s ideas?
Proofs without content, a majesty of seem.
Often, now, to be arguing with the screen,
to be doubting the handsome news reader or unseen
firm-voiced teller—not their dependable shells,
but the content of their speech—makes me tired, unwell.
Often to be not normal, untrustful;
a killjoy always; almost, in my country, disloyal…
I blame him. Even in Disneyland,
an eight- and ten-year-old at either hand,
I push from the dark of techno-dreams to sigh,
“Catch the political message of that ride?”
“Give us a break. We’re only kids.” They run,
two boys, delighted, through the all-consuming sun.
Copyright 2018 Sandy Solomon