Two Poems

Home, Home on the Harangue

Let bygones be bygones
Because we're talking about jobs,
Jobs you can count on,
Jobs you can build a future on,
Jobs you need to get back on your feet,
Good jobs, more jobs than people to fill them,
More people at work than any time in history,
Jobs you don't question, but answer: "Yes sir!"

Write a book of poems in which
Every poem ends with the same word: freedom.
It won't do any good. It won't
Make the wild stallion with flaring nostrils
            and gleaming hindquarters come
                        any closer. Or will it?
Tell it to the Jews who exterminate Nazis
            on other planets.
Tell it to the $500,000 it cost to kill
            each soldier in Vietnam.
Tell it to riverboats loaded only with
            dried buffalo tongues.

Home, home on the harangue,
Where the anti-work-ethic plays,
Where seldom are heard discouraging words
            that I'm self-impaled on my polemic,
That I'm getting on my hobbyhorse and preaching,
Gesticulating pipsqueak posturing delusions
            of megalomaniac grandeur
                        on the staggering stage of Eternity.


Redressing the Balance

What I want to know is
Do you really want your mother and father
            in a factory all those years?
Let alone America selling torture devices world-wide
            since l983,
Let alone the government injecting us with radiation
            without our knowing,
Let alone enough bombs to create a World War II every second
            for a century,
Let alone New York City using more energy in a minute
            than Wyoming in a week,
Let alone the leading bestseller a book
            on how to kill yourself,
Let alone the $750,000 it cost to kill
            each soldier in the Gulf War,
Let alone veterans throwing their Medals of Honor
            on the White House steps,
Let alone TV devotees with l000 channels per set,
Let alone before Christ ever dreamed he needed to be crucified
            this Sequoia had seen 2000 years go by
                        without once believing there was
a better world than this
            and only by dying could you get there?

Emphasis is on selling one's time.
Emphasis is on timetables and deadlines.
Emphasis is on speed-at-all costs.
Emphasis is on planned obsolescence.
Emphasis is on becoming a billionaire.
Emphasis is on steel-jawed leg-traps.
Instead of foundering dumbfounded,
            we outsmarted ourselves—
The names of the days and months were invented.
The number of numbers on the clock was made up.
The existence of money and having to earn it
            was made up.
No wonder we're floundering when
            no wonder is why we're floundering!
Our own planet is the planet
We daydream what it might be like to land on
All starry-eyed realizing we're from Outer Space
            and have come to teach Earthlings how to love.

Eternity is not a rat-race,
Eternity is not a traffic jam,
Eternity does not punch in on a timeclock
            or exist from paycheck to paycheck,
Eternity has no lunchbucket or thermos,
Eternity has no safety shoes,
Eternity has no second hand or hour hand
            or numbers that go around in a circle,
Eternity doesn't enter the lottery,
Eternity doesn't merger its debentures,
Eternity doesn't calculate its net worth
            on a pocket computer,
But Eternity is so vast
            in the endless and infinite reaches of Eternity
                        it needs now and then,
            a poet whose full-time job is
                        silently observing by candlelight
            girls having dreams in their sleep.

—Antler, Milwaukee, WI