Other countries seem desperate to tell us
how we look to foreign eyes, as if we were
as blind as the cave fish or the mole.
Cowboys, racists, patriots, slumlords – we
know it’s all true – endless highways, patchwork
farms, strip malls and Disney World.
We killed the Indians and enslaved
the Africans. We birthed jazz and the auto
and skyscrapers and the bomb.
And dreamers still say,
the myth aglow in their eyes:
“I want to go to America.”
Calendar pages flip,
election day draws closer,
pomp and circumstance grows cacophonous,
and I withdraw —
like the groundhog who sees his shadow
and scurries back into his burrow.
Six more weeks of press and pundits…
Two candidates as different as rice and potatoes…
And when I emerge in November,
will my grandmother still say
“dirty Jews”? Will my ex-mother-in-law still think
“Russians don’t value life like us”?
Change drips slowly from the spigot of youth
and time. But Election Day 2060
will find the groundhog waking yet again
to a war, a famine,
a man striking another man
because he is afraid.
Said the sign, rough and rude, hanging on the fence of an empty lot on the edge of the U-Street District. I paused. I pondered. I walked on and wondered: What is the mission of this shadowy Bureau? Misdirect pure hearts down dark capitalist paths? Send artists to law school and poets to jail? Stamp out creativity and compassion. Or is the mission more grand, more sinisterly global? Guiding countries to war and leaders to folly. Founded by CIA, funded by K street, fostered by CEO of Corporation X? Oh, the easy fantasy of complex conspiracy. Simpler to blame someone higher, more powerful: Senators and spies, one man and his Office, a secret Bureau, screwing our good intentions. But it’s an empty lot and a hollow explanation. We have misdirected ourselves, misguided our attention, stopped our eyes and our ears and our tongues. Destiny and judgment awaits.