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old glory

percolating inside of me since 9/11, this poem strives to illustrate the connections between our culture and the current political state of affairs. please write with comments if you so desire.
old glory's peeling
slowly off minivan windows
across our great nation
where nine eleven merchandise
is priceslashed for clearance
and war is waged on behalf
of oil and vengeance, but
dressed up as freedom
at every six o'clock bulletin.

george wields it well, his bought
power, his fancy floridian election, his role
in the new american monarchy.
he will cast this conflict over our eyes
like a shadow, and he will rob us of everything
while we look across the ocean
towards our brave men and women,
sent futilely to defend us all.
the threat is here, people,
mccarthyism is back with a bite,
ashcroft makes old joe look a liberal,
and patriot 2 robs us of the
very same hardwon freedoms
this war claims to defend.
see it made law while the news
draws your eye to the mideast,
while the dog and his pony
gag you with your stars and bars.

there is no rationale for revenge
at a global level. there is no reason
to turn your back, george, and funnel funds
away from the hungry mouths of millions
of children starving in your 'free' and 'civilized' nation.
but you do, you have, as your ears close
around the sound of the battle drum,
your eyes narrow towards saddam,
towards zero-four. as your fist
welds itself into an assault rifle in a kindergarten classroom,
thirty dead this morning, in a sleepy town
just south of democracy and her tired old ways.
can you smell the flesh of iraqi children in your sleep, george,
can you taste the smoky, bloody air in which they die?

we could receive the violence of terrorism without
perpetuating the cycle, but, george, you choose to
further cripple nations which produce these angry people,
the desperate but clear logic of their terrorism. we could
yell all the while about how this act, these towers falling,
has no reason, no motive, no prior aggression.
we could forget that capitalism is greedy, that the walmarts
and fast food chains help us cripple our local businesses and
directly contribute to why we were attacked that early autumn day.
america has become an onerous brand,
synonymous with spending, as plasticky as can be,
we have replaced quality with quantity worldwide.

in a culture where everything is smoothed over,
genetically modified, and airbrushed,
how could they have gotten the attention of
this nation, this government, this president
who was never elected, without bringing down
our big huge moneychurch in a fiery ball
of fuckyouamerica?

i can mourn those who died
and know why it happened at the same time.

i can mourn those who died
and know why it happened at the same time.

we all could,
we could change our lives.
we could destroy
our money money money culture
and create communities again,
we could send packing this plastic
america, on sale this weekend only,
aisles of options for better living
climbing towards the ceiling,
the smog filled sky, the god
who walked away from this human
disaster long ago, knew when to fold 'em.

we are made to hate ourselves because
happy, satisfied people cannot power
this outlet mall capitalist economy, because
happy, satisfied people simply need less.
we all need less, but we prefer to fix it,
the emptiness inside, with on sale items
and a new pair of shoes.
we buy the marketing every day,
we shovel it spoonful by spoonful
barrel by barrel,
into our consciousness,
lathered, layered and lubricated
over every aspect of american life.

women hate themselves because of
glamour mags and skinnyass models,
because of the marketing surrounding
aging and beauty and size and shape,
whether or not you are married by 30,
or married by america on fox at 9pm,
because they just don't have time anymore,
time to raise the kids and clean the house
and have the career that earns them
an unequal equality, a portioned piece of the pie.
men hate themselves because
they were raised on an american dream
vanished in the smoke of modern life,
because they were asked to treat women
as equals, and no one told them how,
because they were asked to support their families,
and no one mentioned that this was not limited to economy.
everyone hates themselves because our culture
is designed to make us fix quickly, apply the wrinkle cream,
and pay the rent without asking too many questions.
we know our existence is shallow,
but we don't know how to fix it.
the worm gnawing our insides,
creating the hole where the emptiness grows,
it's the american dream dying
slowly in the fading light of
america's glorious reign,
gasping for air in the anthrax fog.

and it worked so well,
this plasticizing of our souls,
that we consolidated,
we became multinationals,
we took mcdonalds to countries
where eating meat is a mortal sin,
starbucks to countries where coffee
has no historical or cultural context,
we sent tommy hilfiger
to clothe the famine round bellies
of children in africa.
we told everyone to drink coca-cola, and
we all learned to supersize.
but our children, our parents, our country,
we are fat and lazy now, we are
a nation of obese and apathetic
couch potatoes munching on the
rhetoric presented by corporate owned news.
we are all stuck on the couch,
flipping the channels past
people more beautiful than ourselves
towards some utopian channel that doesn't exist,
a place where we might be told that we are enough,
enough as we are at this very moment.

america won't you listen to me please?
won't you look around you and see?
so many of us suffer, no job, no home,
no living wage, no hope for a future.
i know how hard it is, america,
i cry for my people, the way
iraqis must cry for theirs,
my eyes will never unlearn injustice,
my ears will never stop hearing the growling
bellies of undernourished american children.
once you wake up, there is no sleep to be had.
ignorance and apathy are admittedly easier
than looking this world in the eye, and asking
how all this suffering, all this multi-faceted suffering,
could have come to pass. as the shopping malls
and old navy commercials ask you to buy something
which will make you more beautiful,
less fat, less old, less less less
you choose to turn your eye
from someone less than beautiful.
how can you feed even one hungry person
when by doing so, on some level,
you must admit, even subconsciously,
that society has a responsibility to every member.

society has a responsibility to every member,
yet we dump grain as american children starve.
yet we pass over dented cans, over scarred fruit,
we ask our food to be as airbrushed
as the models in our magazines,
and we let children in our neighborhoods
live on crackers and ketchup,
speeches about freedom,
and news bulletins from the front line.

our elderly are farmed into death;
our grandparents die alone in retirement villages.
our children do not read, or write,
or care about anything but playstation and barbie.
we are the most domestically fucked up
of all first world nations, hands down.
collectively, white people are still very afraid
of people of color, any color, afraid that they will
catch up, make good on the american dream
before we do, that they will find their ways into
our culdesacs and private schools, that they
will breed with our beautiful children.
we have made strides, though, we have seen change.

change called classism, which has coupled with racism
to end the existence of the middle class in this country.
now, white trash can finally be hated alongside
poor people of color, every color of the rainbow
can be poor in america. everyone has the right, here,
in the land of the free, to work fulltime
and still not make enough to feed their families;
everyone has the right to be let down by the american dream.
and why isn't george all riled up to defend
the fiery american spirit dying or dead in each of us
as we watch our country crawl around on its knees,
confused, moralistic, and strapped for cash?
because it is easier to beat the drum of war into unsatisfied eardrums;
because it is easier to truss up killing and death
as freedom and democracy
when people are so thirsty, so thirsty for a solution.

a solution. a solution. i don't have one,
neither does george, or oprah,
or the blue light special at kmart.
there is not one solution, there will never be only one.
but what if we all lived responsibly,
if we all knew where our dollars went
after they left our wallets,
what if we all took radical action
against ourselves, and the ruts we have all dug
and lavishly decorated?
what if we all took a collective responsibility
to try and give our children half a chance,
if we all took a week of our vacation each year
and volunteered, shared our skills without pay?
what if we all knew our neighbors,
and the names of their kids?
what if we all looked ourselves in the goddamn mirror
and realized nine eleven was no accident;
it was a direct criticism of the impact
our multinational capitalistic culture has had
on the citizens of other nations,
nations with moral codes and religions and traditions
very far from the almighty dollar.
what then? would we still want to shop at the mall this weekend?
would we still want to supersize?

what if we all stopped buying the bandaid
and looked to actually heal the wound?
this wound of being promised an america
that no longer exists, of being raised on a
countrywide collective dream
from which we all just jumped up in the night
in a cold, cold sweat, whites of our eyes blazing
against the darkness of all around.

it feels sometimes like i'm all alone,
like no one else has noticed all this,
like no one else has cried into their pillows
because he is ignoring us, he is dragging us to war
without our consent, he has made me 'unamerican'
because i ask for options to be considered,
because i see so many holes that need patching.
the largest preemptive antiwar protest
in human history, in the same human history
where america is still such a baby, is happening
and it is being ignored. we have used our freedom
of speech, and it has been ignored. we have used
our right to assemble and have done so by the millions,
have done so weekend after weekend on the white house lawn.
we used our right to vote, and florida rendered us all
irrelevant and voiceless, led us into this apocalypse.

rome conquered with great armies;
we've used products and convenience culture instead
rome was unparalleled until now, in its rise, and its fall.
the world has lost respect for our whole nation
based on the actions of a petulant little child
and his crazily conservative cabinet,
based on our arrogance and unwillingness to consider
the whole, the impact of our international choices.
rome fell too, and we are falling;
i can feel the wind rushing in my ears. -kate molony
that was... 27.Mar.2003 12:02

arielle

fucking grand.....thank you