Exhausted: a series of political prose poems for @MJalonschi via #njpoet #p2


When I was in grade school, a bully named Jack decided to threaten the other kids into voting for Ronald Reagan. Three other boys tried to explain that we were too young to vote, and three other boys got beaten down by Reagan’s junior campaigner. I told Jack I’d vote for Reagan twice. At lunch, he gave me half his sandwich.

“The Republicans are for the rich!” my grandmother insisted while we were watching the News that evening.

“And the stupid,” I added.

In high school I lived on the poor side, the south end of town. My single mother worked two jobs to pay for our small apartment, to support her three kids. On the north end, the middle class kids wore designer clothes, drove brand new cars, threw catered parties and barbecued around in-ground pools.

My hand-me-down, Kmart wardrobe excluded me from their cliques, from their parties, and I walked to school—so very un-cool.

Many of these middle class mates, and their kids, have now lost their jobs, their homes, and their pools. They’ve moved into small, cramped apartments. They’re outraged. Some of them have even become activists. They want economic equality.

I was sitting in my cubicle. I was listening to Howard Stern discuss not having sex with Pamela Anderson when Baba Booey interrupted.

A plane just hit one of the Twin Towers!

It was just a crazy story on a Tuesday morning, until the second plane hit. By 10 AM, the Stern Show had collapsed into simulcasts of public radio. By 10:15, the manager of my corporate office, my boss, had written me up for watching the News—an unauthorized personal use of the Internet. She insisted I was overreacting when I asked to go home at 10:20, and fired me at 10:30 as I walked out the door.

She apologized and re-hired me on September 12th at 9 AM, just before the moment of silence.

2003 found me on a bus to Washington DC—en route to a march to protest the coming Iraq War. To pass the drive, the organizers screened anti-war docs—rough amateur films—on the mini-TVs that were hanging above every third seat. Nervous experts flashed across the screens, openly, publicly defying the policies of the United States government. It was less than two years after 9/11, and these crazy/brave people were calling the President a liar. They were saying Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. And they were saying Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11—an absurd suggestion, of course.

These were the dangerous and unpatriotic opinions of the radical left before the Iraq invasion was launched in 2003, and these were the same opinions that would echo across the Mainstream Media—several years later—when everyone else finally realized that the Bush wars were manufactured by liars, that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and that, of course, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

Don’t be silly. The President never said that!

And lest this seem like a rambling series of political prose poems with no overarching point, here is my thesis: I’m exhausted with the United States of America.

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