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Sunday, October 07, 2018


by Pamela Sumners

Daughter, bear the slights of the petty with grace
and aplomb.  The porcelain smile on your face
will write of itself the pretty words
they’ll choose for your tomb, recording
that you chose your battles well.
The rest can fight it out in hell.

My lesson is let plebe and patrician alone.
There’s no sport in baiting the very dumb,
and you’ll never beat either for influencing
the tilt of the world tilting at windmills—
The stupid are beyond convincing,
and the rich won’t roll away your stone.

Mind the manner, not the honor of your word.
Ungreased candor only blunts the sword.
And courage was made for the cupboard.
This world, if no mild place, is the hoard
of the meek.  Shh, my girl, don’t speak.

Mind your pusillanimous p’s, querulous cues.
The world builds altars to the timorous
who are generous in their alliances,
who have the temerity to putsch defiance
and study popularity as a science.
Bite on verity as you would a bullet
at an amputation without ether
and every polarity of man’s universe
will verily reverse God’s curse
and laud your jocularity.

The meek earned their own beatitude,
won an earth unscorched by thoughts either
deep or divisible, whose worth
is wreaked out in platitudes.
Apocalypse alone is birthed by temper.
Our creation is just a whine and whimper.
Stepchild Truth is no Big Bang, just a birthing
pang orphaned by jackboot ingratitude.

Voltaire knew the law of gratuities we ply:
Live long enough to enrage the actuaries
calculating your annuities.  Me,
I’d vouch for the mealy-mouthed backroom
schemer who perches where opportunism knocks,
flattering the acuity of his sense-shorn flocks.
Don’t slouch!  Lurch!  Pluck out the eye
too discerning.  By all means be of use—
a churched diplomat, and, if must be, obtuse.
The strong man may covet your ox or your ass,
but it’s the dullard sheep who reaps the grass.

Author’s Note: I wanted to say a word to the mufflers of women who want them to be ornamental and compliant. That has been much on display of late.

Pamela Sumners is a constitutional and civil rights lawyer who has glared at Roy Moore, Jay Sekulow, Bill Pryor, and various Alabama governors across courtrooms. She also was the longest-serving executive director of Missouri's NARAL affiliate and has litigated numerous sexual harassment and discrimination cases. She now lives in St. Louis with her wife, teenage son, and three dogs who watch crime shows and sleep all day.