It Seems to Me
“When power leads man to arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.”
~John F. Kennedy
As I write this, toward the end of 2008, the world is looking crazier and scarier than ever. I don’t want to add to the multitude of punditry already in place. It’s time to seek the wisdom, clarity and solace of poetry:
ANYBODY FOR MONEY Ogden Nash
Consider the banker
He was once a financial anchor.
To pinch our pennies he would constantly implore us,
And if we wouldn’t pinch them ourselves, he would
pinch them for us.
Yes, bankers used to be like Scrooge before he encountered
the ghost of Marley,
But along came TV and now they are Good-Time Charlie.
The bankers have only themselves to blame for the recent
wave of holdups and embezzlelements I think
They are behaving so provocatively robbable.
WORLD BANK BLUES Allen Ginsberg
I work for the World Bank yes I do
My salary was hundred thousand smackeroo
I know my Harvard economics better than you
Nobody knows that I make big plans
I show Madagascar leaders how to dance
How to read statistics & wear striped pants
We’ll loan you money to expand production
Pay our yearly interest, for your own protection
Tighten your belts, we’ll have no objection
Get people working on mass market land
Cut down forests, for your cash in hand
Or superhighways money where Rainforests stand
I just retired from my 20 year job
At World Bank Central with the money mob
Go to AA meetings so’s not die a slob
Walk the streets of Washington alone at night
The job I did, was it wrong or right?
Big mistakes that’ve gone out of sight?
It wasn’t the job of a bureaucrat like me
To check the impact of the Bank policy
When debt bore fruit on the world money tree.
THE ECONOMIST’S SONG Stanley Kunitz
Come sit beneath the tariff walls
Among the scuttling unemployed,
The rodent pack; sing madrigals
Of Demos and the Cyprian maid
Bewildered by the golden grain,
While ships with peril in their hulls,
Deploying on the lines of trade,
Transport the future of gangrene.
HARLEM Langston Hughes
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore –
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over-
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
THE JEWISH TIME BOMB Yehuda Amichai
On my desk there’s a stone with AMEN carved on it, one
of the thousands upon thousands of bits of broken
in Jewish graveyards. I know all these broken bits
now fill the great Jewish time bomb
along with the other fragments and shrapnel, broken
Tablets of the Law
broken altars broken crosses rusty crucifixion nails
broken houseware and holyware and broken bones
eyeglasses shoes prostheses false teeth
and empty tin cans of lethal poison. All these
fill the Jewish time bomb till the End of Days.
And though I know all about these, and all about the End
this stone on my desk gives me peace.
It is the touchstone no one touches, more philosophical
than any philosopher’s stone, broken stone from a broken
more whole than any wholeness,
a stone of witness to what has always been
and what will always be, a stone of amen and love.
Amen, amen, and may it come to pass.