War vs. Bird

We're soon to start a war
in some distant place,
the facts hard to verify,
the opinions a firestorm,
but do you want your children to die in it?
Nor do I, and some are exhilarated,
dreaming of political wagons
that can be hitched to this
ancient wretched donkey.
So drama is enacted
in front of camera and microphone,
the press conferences never end,
commotion appears in streets and parks,
outrageous claims are made and believed
with the certainty of the pampered.
It's a Tijuana bar district of rhetoric
where barkers on the sidewalk
in front of dive after dive
yank your arm to get you inside
to swallow a liquor of assumptions
and have their whores of ideology
cheat you out of your money.

We could listen to our leaders instead,
they wear suits in front of backdrops,
they're given expensive time
to tell us how much they do for us
and to act as if war is necessary,
as wars always are, and not based on
the crime and incompetence of their kind.
Are they murderers?
You'll never be able to tell,
but here's an interesting story
about their pets and piano-playing,
the bullshit groomed by bulldozer,
buffed to gleaming by artists.

This morning I hear
some kind of mockingbird
up on a wall.
His throat puffs up,
his beak opens,
he speaks with urgency
over an empty lot,
then follows immediately
with more on the subject
and then more--
he's done his homework
and is wholly eloquent,
covering all sides
with proper evaluation,
winning with force of will and logic.
Under partial clouds, partial sun,
I'm astonished at every word.


2003 Mark Giffin