To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Jerome Rothenberg: A Poem for the Cruel Minority

[Written during the Reagan administration as “A Poem for the Cruel Majority” & a counter to talk then about “the silent majority” & its rising place in our national politics. The result of the recent election, in which a minority of the electorate brought Donald J. Trump into office, caused me to rethink & to reword the earlier designation. If further changes are needed (& they will be), I’ll think about it more. (J.R.)]

     The cruel minority emerges!

     Hail to the cruel minority!
                                                                                                                                                                       They will punish the poor for being poor.
They will punish the dead for having died.

     Nothing can make the dark turn into light
for the cruel minority.
Nothing can make them feel hunger or terror.

     If the cruel minority would only cup their ears
the sea would wash over them.
The sea would help them forget their wayward children.
It would weave a lullaby for young & old.

    (See the cruel minority with hands cupped to their ears,
one foot is in the water, one foot is on the clouds.)

    One man of them is large enough to hold a cloud
between his thumb & middle finger,
to squeeze a drop of sweat from it before he sleeps.

    He is a little god but not a poet.
(See how his body heaves.)

    The cruel minority love crowds & picnics.
The cruel minority fill up their parks with little flags.
The cruel minority celebrate their birthday.

    Hail to the cruel minority again!

    The cruel minority weep for their unborn children,
they weep for the children that they will never bear.
The cruel minority are overwhelmed by sorrow.

    (Then why are the cruel minority always laughing?
Is it because night has covered up the city's walls?
Because the poor lie hidden in the darkness?
The maimed no longer come to show their wounds?)

    Today the cruel minority vote to enlarge the darkness.

    They vote for shadows to take the place of ponds
Whatever they vote for they can bring to pass.
The mountains skip like lambs for the cruel minority.

    Hail to the cruel minority!
Hail! hail! to the cruel minority!

    The mountains skip like lambs, the hills like rams.

    The cruel minority tear up the earth for the cruel minority.
Then the cruel minority line up to be buried.

    Those who love death will love the cruel minority.

   Those who know themselves will know the fear
the cruel minority feel when they look in the mirror.

    The cruel minority order the poor to stay poor.
They order the sun to shine only on weekdays.

    The god of the cruel minority is hanging from a tree.
Their god's voice is the tree screaming as it bends.
The tree's voice is as quick as lightning as it streaks across the sky.

    (If the cruel minority go to sleep inside their shadows,
they will wake to find their beds filled up with glass.)

    Hail to the god of the cruel minority!                                                                                                   Hail to the eyes in the head of their screaming god!

   Hail to his face in the mirror!

   Hail to their faces as they float around him!

   Hail to their blood & to his!

    Hail to the blood of the poor they need to feed them!                                                                           Hail to their world & their god!

    Hail & farewell!
Hail & farewell!

Hail & farewell!

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