Monday, January 23, 2017

The Masque of Democracy

written on the occasion of the presidential inauguration,
with inspiration from and gratitude and/or apologies to Percy Bysshe Shelley

by Quincy Saul, January 2017

I heard a voice on the Southern wind
It came o'er desert soils and poisoned waves,
It demanded of me that I begin
A poem to foil the prose that makes us slaves.

I heard a cry on the Northern wind
It rose o'er the roar of war and grief,
It demanded of me that I begin
A poem to soar o'er doubt into belief.

I heard a scream on the Western wind
It came o'er peaks of hunger and pits of thirst,
It demanded of me that I begin
To cast a counter-spell to our terrible curse.

I heard a song on the Eastern wind
It swept o'er melting ice and rising tides
It demanded of me that I begin
A poem of beauty and battle lines.

      By the word is the world disfigured,
      With the word is the world disgraced!
      With the word is the soul transfigured,
      And illusions are sewn into place!

      Yet the word cannot be replaced!
      For the word is the act prefigured,
      And the word is the spirit's embrace,
      And the word is the will encased,
      When rhyme helps the word find its place
      As the heart keeps the blood configured,
      May poetry pump for salvation and grace.

The modern world had reached an age
Of culminated love and rage,
Confounding every pen and page
Which sought to make it dance upon a stage.

And the poets were lost who could not face frost,
Forsaking the cost of the spring.
Of seasons and reasons we ceased to sing,
And doubt and dread took flight on winter's wing.

And yet a vision came to me
Of culminated loves and rages
So destiny appeared to me
To demand his wages.

He brought the world upon parade,
In calamitous cavalcade,
Where every soul must play its part,
Surrendering their mind and heart
To their place in the procession,
Hear my vision, my confession!

I found myself at the parade
Observing from a promenade
Built from the hopes and fears of all the world.
This nation was the center of this world,
For around this world its war machines curled.

The glory of the empire shone
On towers and trumpets bright as bone,
The lights were brighter than the sky,
And the food and the fuel and the fire and the flags did fly!

It was a land of freedom and damnation,
Of puritans and their temptations,
Of slavery and emancipation,
Of law and re-enslavement,
Of debt and entertainment,
Of genocide and patience.

The sun and moon were in eclipse
But this eerie sight all eyes did miss –
Their eyes on the parade were fixed:

Here was a banker, fat and bold,
With mouth like a wallet and a heart of gold,
Proud of the price that he got for his soul.

Here was a child, strange and shy,
With a mouth that was mute and clouds in her eyes,
Poisoned by lead in the water, that's why.

Here came the soldier, headed to war,
Trained in gore and the empire's chores,
Upon his heart a mighty dream:
“Be all you can be.”

Here came the soldier, back from the war,
Homeless and poor,
He killed for his country,
What for?

Here comes the White man, in his mind supreme,
He can't see why the world won't share his dream,
He's filthy and thinks he is clean.

Here comes the Red man, sacred pipe in hand,
He survived all the White man's plans,
He knows he belongs to the land.

Here comes the Yellow man, patient and strong,
He too has survived all the White man's wrong,
He may be master before long.

Here comes the Black man, who survived the worst,
Who reverses the curse,
Here is the last who shall be first.

Here come the lost youth
Who never heard of truth,
Empowered and let loose.

Here come the adults, proud and secure,
The forgot their dreams but they are insured,
Can they be cured?

Here come the elders, cast aside,
In sterilized centers they wait to die,
Their children do not hear them cry.

Here comes the policeman, from his belt hang weapons
To help the people learn power's lessons,
And on his breast are power's words:
“Protect and serve.”

Here comes the spy,
On his lips lies, hiding
Death in his eyes,
Who's surprised?

Here come the workers, through millions of veins,
The heart of capital holds their reins,
What do they have to lose but their chains?

Here come the suburbanites
Like termites, busy all night,
A swarm and a blight.

Here comes the celebrity who lives for fame,
Everyone knows their name.
The sparkling flame is tame –
Who's to blame?

Here comes the adman, charming and slick,
He lives on tricks which keep people sick.

Here comes the prophet to conquer pain,
To make the world believe again,
Diagnosed as criminally insane.

Here comes the prisoner and the guard,
They both hold freedom in high regard –
To look them in the eye is hard.

Here are the radicals, crazy or brave:
Wherever they can they rant and rave,
How many souls can they save?

Then came the students and their teachers,
All the pilgrims and their preachers;
They corralled their mighty herds
With an electric flow of words.

Shameless of their uncalloused hands
They spoke for the balance of life and land
As if redemption and salvation
Hinged upon their calculation,
As if the fate of land or nation
Could be measured, kept or rationed.

The clever and the educated –
Upon whose words much action waited –
Counseled calm and moderation,
Disgracing all their education,
For their degree and their distinction
Presided over mass extinction!
The shadow that their knowledge cast
Was ignorance, vast.

On their lips was every reason
And a catalog of every treason,
Yet in their minds weighed every cause to pause,
And in their thoughts was every fact and no act.

And then at last, rising over the herd,
The leadership that it deserves!

The first, with handsome eyes and golden skin,
Held the hopes of all with him,
Shaking hands, forgiving sins,
Birds of metal circled him.

With the gold of peace around his neck
And at his feet, six nations wrecked,
In one hand glory, and the other gory,
He seemed chosen by history
To make of it a mockery.

By the oppressor blessed, he stood for the oppressed.
A symbol of peace, he dropped bombs without cease.
He stood up for the poor, and gave the rich more,
He stood up for the sick, and made parasites rich,
He led invasions and shattered nations,
Preaching peace and reconciliation.

His name was repeated the world around,
And in his name they heard freedom's sound,
Heard sweet chariots swinging low
In the engines of predator drones.

With the hope he stole
He gave empire soul!
He was so bold.

He blessed the people as he said goodbye,
And tears fell to them from his eyes
And made them blind.

He ruled with love and not with fear
And so they held him dear.
They wept and wondered at his farewell
As if under a spell.

A different leader now arrived
To represent the empire's pride.
He ruled with fear and not with love,
So they raised him above.

With sneering lips and orange skin
He held the eyes of all on him.
He promised greatness, also power
To everyone that he devoured.

He made deals between villains and cowards
And put his name on many towers.
Chosen to lead the empire's fall,
He promised it a giant wall.

Ugly and ruthless, smug and grim,
He held the eyes of all on him.
An expert in the art of the deal,
He knows how to steal!

Thus the empire did elect
A president with no respect,
To let the lecherous billionaire
Show the world how much they cared.

He pledged to unite all sisters and brothers
In the buying and selling of the Earth, their Mother.
Beautiful women surrounded him
While he made war on the feminine.

A true believer that might makes right,
Whose favorite color was White!

He promised to leave no one behind, and to rob them blind.
He promised peace and promised war, whatever they asked for.
He promised rebirth, and to rape Mother Earth,
And the people loved and hated, and he was elated.
And they filled the streets to announce his blame,
And they chanted his name.

Last came Democracy; he lived
In a white house, built by blacks;
He was bloody like his creation,
Like Death in Revelation.

And he wore a business suit
And in one hand a button held
To condemn the world to to hell.

In the other hand was currency
Proclaiming “Life and Liberty,”
And these words were branded on his flesh:
“The pursuit of happiness.”

He stood upon a massive throne
Made of living skin and bone,
It was dragged through the streets by millions of ropes
Braided from living dreams and hopes.

Golden glasses cover his eyes,
The windows to his soul disguised,
While the fancy shoes in which he stands
Protect his feet from stolen lands.

Machinery was in his ears
Deafening himself to thousands of years.
His nostrils too were closed with gold,
Sealed to the stench of the betrayal of his soul.

His shadow cast in every direction,
(He believes it will protect him)
And before him stands a mirror grand,
So he sees only his own reflection.

In his heart a whirlwind slept
It was his very soul repressed.
For in his soul was something he feared:
Ancestors who held his name dear!
Lingering spirits he couldn't erase
That raged to see their name disgraced,
And promised that they would awaken
To reclaim the word he had forsaken!

Then! Like a dream within a dream
The procession was pierced by a brilliant beam –
The sun emerged from its eclipse
And captured the crowd like a cosmic kiss...

And in that moment every eye
Turned from the empire to the sky
And in that moment every dream
Turned from the empire to that beam –

It fell upon a little girl who had her arms raised high,
And in that moment every ear was filled with an eagle's cry.
Majestic and mysterious, wonderful and wild,
An eagle descended on the beam, to alight on the hand of the child.

And then to the tune of prophecy,
The little girl began to sing:

Remember twelve score years ago!
When what we reap today was sown:

When a nation was conceived
In the love of liberty!

When a continent was dedicated
To the conviction that all are equally created!

Remember when this treasure
Required devotion's full measure,

So that freedom's rebirth
Would not perish from the earth!

Behold the Tree of Liberty,
Withered and weak with drought and disease,
Radioactive with industry,
Strangled by supremacy,
Behold strange fruit and Misery!

Rally to the Tree of Liberty,
Refresh it with the blood of tyrannies!
That's its natural manure, the founders assured.
If a government works against our life,
To alter or abolish it is our right!

Remember twelve score years of wrongs, and sing their songs!
Remember twelve score years of hopes, and weave their ropes!
Remember the imagination:
The equality of creation
As the foundation of a nation.

To fight for the fruits of self-evident truths,
And to live like life has inalienable rights!
To make the dreams of the distant past, real at last!”

And in her small but certain voice,
She gave them a choice:

Call a continental congress,
To rewrite the constitution,
Or let the winds of change bring war
And civil dissolution.

A constituent assembly
To re-found democracy
So it includes us all –
Or it will fall!

A covenant of all the land's peoples
To overcome their nation's evils,
To forge forgiveness and find new worth
In an empire's end and a nation's rebirth!”

When the child finished, she lowered her hands
And the eagle took flight for other lands.

And here my vision ends,
Where the path of the future bends.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Soñar Zapatista en Nueva York

por el Congreso Nacional Indigena y su candidata
de Quincy Saul

Aquí en el capitolio del capitalismo
Hemos escuchado al silencio.

Aquí en el medio de la maquina,
Soñamos con la milpa.

Aquí en el meollo de lo mediático
Aquí donde se dirige el desencantamiento,
En el totalitarismo del tonal,
Soñamos del nagual.

Aquí donde no se puede ver las estrellas
Soñamos de la cosmovision vislumbrada
en la dignidad Zapatista.

Aquí abajo el torre del imperio,
Que marca el ápice de todos los pirámides,
Soñamos de bajar y no subir.

Aquí en el mundo plano como papel y moneda,
Soñamos en el mundo llena como luna y semilla.
Rodeados por objetos acumulados
Soñamos con la intersubjetividad sublevada.

Soñamos con la lucha entre Tío Sam y Votan Zapata
En el terreno brillante del arco de justicia
¡Y soñamos con la victoria!
Ya se mira el horizonte --
Abandonaremos los pirámides
Y sembraremos milpa en Central Park.

Aquí en el agujero blanco del malgobierno
Abajo el reino de un demonio como presidente
Soñamos con el liderazgo de una mujer indígena,
Que sea candidata por México y por el mundo donde quepan todos,
Por ella nos convocamos y nos comprometemos,
Salta la quien salta.