Thursday, December 16, 2004

A Mission Statement

My son is in the process of reading Huckleberry Finn in school and Twain's famous first sentence is that well-known attempt at self-definition, "You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter." And it made me think, what do you need to have read of mine to know about me. It's not Daily Negations, and it's not 888 Reasons to Hate Republicans, it's A Mission Statement. You can click the link, but I've cut and pasted it from's June 2000 issue.


And we write of our shells as if they are
something in which to take pride as well
as shelter.

Her lyrics are written in English
then translated into French
so they can be sung.

His words sound as if they've been
translated from German (knowing
life is too short to speak German).

My fragments are assembled
with connective tissue
and homemade glue

so don't speak to me of your profit
and loss statements and I won't
tell you about my new favorite book

or band and we may sit and talk
about our souls
or sit in silence until one of us

explodes in righteous anger
ignited by the red and green
Christmas lights that are missing

bulbs but are still burning
from municipal lampposts
at four in the morning
on February 17th.


Where can we go
to find a place
where it's quiet enough
to hear the rhythm
of silent words?

Not here. It's definitely
not here.
Maybe that's why
too many poets are coming
from prairies and mountains
these days

where they can hear
the beat of words
without the overlay of these rhythms
of machine or man.

Engines are OK.
Trains are better,
but you can't read verse
in the middle of screaming crosstalk
from those accustomed to vying
for audible space in a white kitchen
with the T.V. blasting.

You and I write poems not because we love
words, but because we hate
them, and want to put them
in their place.


So, if you were interested, now you know.
-True Blue Liberal

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