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Saturday, March 21, 2015

CONFESSIONS OF A POLITICAL POET

by Israel Wasserstein




“...artists who use their media of choice to advocate specific political agendas should always warrant our suspicion...” --Sam Lasman


I will confess I have little patience
for pastorals, for experiments, for post-
modern explorations, for poetry written
in circles to subvert patriarchy,

for lyrics that earnestly explore
how communication is impossible.
I confess such things seem a luxury,
and so I embrace unpoeticism,

and admit that I sometimes think
about those bankers who destroyed
millions’ pensions, profiting
on the misery of the soon-to-be

homeless, fantasize about lining up those bastards
and putting two bullets in their heads. I am not
a violent man, and I would rather write
about occult patterns the rain

creates, mixing with oil and garbage
on city streets. How can I write
of the squirrels in my backyard
who antagonize my dog

while Colorado burns, crops wither,
ice caps melt? These are ugly sentiments
for a poet. I can’t write small poems
about autumn with Trayvon Martin dead,

about subverting the paradigm of I
while the people of Syria are murdered,
while politicians label anyone killed by drones
enemy combatants, while polio and T.B.

return, while women die in back-alley
abortions and churches preach stay
with your abuser. While football coaches,
Archbishops, politicians cover for rapists,

while the children of the powerful
become the powerful, while wealth
piles in the hands of the rich
and the poor go without jobs, without

healthcare, without hope. I confess
if I knew how, I would rather be a poet
of revolution, to bend my words
against injustice. I confess

I am not that poet--too middle-
class, too white, too straight,
too soft-spoken. In my defense,
I can say only this: I

reject the sin of silence.


Israel Wasserstein, a Lecturer in English at Washburn University, was born and raised on the Great Plains. His first poetry collection, This Ecstasy They Call Damnation, is a 2013 Kansas Notable Book. His poetry and prose have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Blue Mesa Review, Flint Hills Review, and elsewhere.