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Saturday, February 04, 2017


by Samantha Pious

after a ballade by Christine de Pizan

Where will outcasts comfort find
—asylum-seekers, refugees—
 now the land we thought to be
the sunset gates, the golden door,
the harbor where the tired, poor,
and fearful could at last breathe free
has neither love nor amnesty?
The one-percenters are severe;
the young professionals, resigned.
The government won’t deign to hear.

To lawyers they have no recourse,
ill-counseled by their advocates,
without protection from the courts.
The officers who stop and frisk
interrogate with undue force—
and sometimes suspects disappear
before they’re properly accused.
(But could that ever happen here?)
The magistrates condemn, unmoved;
the government won’t deign to hear.

Where shall they go, when there is no
safety here, or anywhere
that hope is vain, and friend is foe?
The underground will take them in
if they believe the garbled voice,
the tiny hands, the laquered hair,
the orange pawn—or puppeteer?—
who has big plans for his first year.
(But will he keep Obamacare?)
The government won’t deign to hear.

Folks, after this election year
the ship of state has sprung a leak
while navigating up shit creek.
We’ll have to pray or maybe hope
our captain doesn’t rock the boat.
The government won’t deign to hear.

Samantha Pious's first book A Crown of Violets (Headmistress Press, 2015) offers a selection of the French poetry of Renée Vivien in English translation. Some of her other translations and poems have appeared in Adrienne, Lavender Review, Mezzo Cammin, and other publications. Her poem "The Government" is loosely adapted from the Middle French of Christine de Pizan (1364-ca. 1430), an Italian-French woman poet and philosopher of the Late Middle Ages.