(All poetry by Bruce Dale Wise)

U.S. Midterm Election 2018

by Brice U. Lawseed

There wasn’t any blue wave, nor a red wall; but instead
the House was painted blue, the Senate turned a brighter red.
America continued its divided government,
since Washington was first proclaimed the US President.
Our nation’s founders built a country, unified, but free,
elections as a check upon unbridled tyranny.
Three branches keep control out of one single sector’s hands;
no entity possessing unconditional command.
And so, another year goes by; disquiet rides the land;
democracy remains intact; the grand republic stands.

Brice U. Lawseed is a poet of Washington DC and its environs.

 

Hate Speech Is Any Speech, or Voices Continue To Be Banned

by Caud Sewer Bile

Hate speech is any speech the memo-crats do not enjoy;
they’ll cross it out, they’ll cut it out. Destroy. Destroy. Destroy.
Hate speech is any speech regressives do not like to hear;
they’ll shove it down, they’ll yell it down. It is the truth they fear.
Hate speech is any speech the uber-alls cannot endure;
they like their commonistic propaganda for the pure.
Hate speech is any speech the cleft can’t manage to corrupt;
they cringe at any voices that they cannot interrupt.
Hate speech is any speech the social mediums disdain;
intolerance and targeting is their refrain. Refrain.

Caud Sewer Bile is a prosy poet of the polis.

 

Gab’s Been Attacked

by Esca Webuilder

Beware the TV sophist talking-heads of vitriol,
the verified nobodies twittering their bitter gall:
While Gab’s been working with the DOJ and FBI
to bring to justice Pittsburg’s antisemite, shooting guy,
it’s been no-platformed by the Oligarchy Silicon,
who smear and censor anyone for free speech that they can.

But Gab’s not going anywhere. O, no, they plan to fight.
Although blind-sided, they’re still planning to get back their site.
So though Gab’s inaccessible—who knows for just how long?
They can’t stop an idea, no, the online outrage throng.
“Remember to speak freely,” Andrew Torba writes online.
It isn’t only Gab, but it’s free speech that’s on the line.

Esca Webuilder is a poet of the Internet.

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9 Responses

  1. David Paul Behrens

    This trio of poems gives us a very astute analysis of our governmental system and the current political and societal climates in which we find ourselves.
    Nicely done.

    Reply
  2. Amy Foreman

    Germane, as always, Bruce! “U.S. Midterm Election 2018” is quite well-written, and I like the placement of the last four rhymes: “-ands,” “-and,” “-and,” “-ands.”

    Reply
  3. Caud Sewer Bile

    Despite Mr. Behrens remarks, these three unrelated poems (the “Midterm” from this morning, the “Gab’s” from last week, and the “Hate Speech” from a month ago) really are not “very astute”; though they definitely are from our “current political” climate; and that is part of the purpose of the docu-tennos: encapsulate the moment, and move on. One of the qualities I really like about Latin poets, like Catullus et. al., is their willingness to comment on political events—even to their own detriments.

    I am thinking about slightly revising L2 & L4 of the poem on hate speech; but I haven’t settled on fixes yet.

    Reply
  4. Brice U. Lawseed

    How relevant the “U. S. Midterm Election 2018” is, despite Ms. Foreman’s kind remark, is hard to tell; because midterm elections in the nation are not generally historically noteworthy, and besides, this is certainly not a detailed analysis; yet I do like the idea of writing a poem about the election (even if it is rather general), as it is my contention, in competition with prose, poetry should be able to be about absolutely anything.

    The poetic element I was most interested in, in this poem, was parallelism; and the poem was a balancing act, partly fortuitous, and partly not. I had wondered if I should take the “ee” rhyme through L5-L8; but then because I wanted to end with “the republic stands”, I decided to run the “and/s” from L7-L10. For a brief while I wanted to insert “executive, judiciary, and legistlature”; but that would make this poem too long for what I was striving for, a brief snapshot.

    I also have a quote/tag for this poem for when it probably gets published elsewhere from my Postmodern art charichord, Red Was Iceblue, in referring to the midterm election, “It was a purple smudge.”

    Reply
  5. J. Simon Harris

    I really like “U. S. Midterm Election 2018”. What a great reminder that our democracy isn’t about any particular interests, but the contest between them. It seems like every election, there are cries from the pundits that our society is crumbling, that THIS is the election that will make or break our democracy. But the final couplet reminds us: “disquiet rides the land”, as it has from the beginning; and yet, “democracy remains intact; the grand republic stands.” EVERY election makes our democracy.

    Reply
  6. Brice U. Lawseed

    Mr. Harris has pointed out one of the central themes of “US Midterm Election 2018”, that is, “disquiet rides the land” but America’s government continues on. The founders our our nation were far-seeing and perspicacious indeed; though like every single human being that’s ever been on this planet, is on this planet now, or will be on this planet in the future, they were flawed [That I even feel the need to say that, shows how benighted this era is.]; but where George Washington shows his distinction is in the creation of the United States of America. In addition to his enormous military contribution, there is his political vision. Given the power to lead the country, perhaps indefinitely, he yielded that power completely after two terms. In the history of America only FDR violated that, now legal, principle. He even wanted to leave after just one term; but John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, inter alia, pleaded with him to do one more term; Jefferson saying, “North and South will hang together, if they have you to hang on.” However his second term was rancourous indeed, especially The Jay Treaty. And so began party division at the beginning of the country, then between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. That divisiveness has not changed. There are many reasons why America seems, and is, more divisive today; though seriously no division since, competes with that of 1861-1865, where Americans willingly waged deadly war against each other; but it was George Washington, in his “Farewell Address”, who saw the storm brewing before him, and wrote, “it is the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain…[political parties]”. I must admit, it is very hard for so many of us to be as far-seeing and perspicacious as those late 18th-century figures who created the oldest, continuous republic on the Earth at this point in time—the early decades of the 21st century; but at least some of us may be able to appreciate what they began.

    Reply
  7. Mark Stone

    Bruce, Hello. I have six comments about the first poem and three about the second.

    1. Lines 3 & 4 strike me as slightly awkward. They are basically saying: A continued B since C. It works better for me to say: A continued B, as it has since C. So my suggestion would be something like (with line 2 starting with a headless iamb):

    America continued its divided government,
    as it has since Washington became the President.

    2. Line 6 is disquieting for me because it has no verb (and it just needs something). One fix is to add a verb. The other is, in Line 5, to change “but” to “with” and delete the comma after “free.” This would create a prepositional phrase that modifies “country.” Here are two possibilities:

    Our nation’s founders built a country, unified and free.
    Elections put a check upon unbridled tyranny.

    Our nation’s founders built a country, unified, with free
    elections as a check upon unbridled tyranny.

    3. In line 7, “one single sector’s hands” seems to me to be redundant. I would change it to: “a single sector’s hands.”

    4. In line 8, I understand what you mean by “unconditional command.” However, I think a slightly better word choice would be “solely in command.” I suggest something like:

    Three branches keep control out of a single sector’s hands.
    No entity of government is solely in command.

    5. In my view, having a final couplet with an imperfect rhyme is like ending an enjoyable date with a handshake: disappointing. My fix would be to change the subject in the last line from singular to plural. Here is one idea:

    And so, another year goes by; disquiet rides the land.
    Our freedom and the pillars of the grand republic stand.

    6. Notwithstanding these minor comments, I think the poem is very good. I enjoyed it.

    7. Regarding the second poem, when I have a key phrase in a poem, I sometimes will pick a meter solely because it fits that phrase well. When I read “Hate speech is,” I think dactyl. I don’t think iamb, because when you say “hate speech,” the emphasis is on “hate” rather than on “speech.” So you might consider putting the poem in dactylic meter, something like:

    Hate speech is speech that your foes do not like.

    8. I wonder if “mediums” should be “media.” I asked Google if “media” is singular or plural, and it said that the Oxford Dictionary says it is plural. Also, when I think of “mediums,” I think of a group of people who can communicate with the spirits.

    9. I like the sound of line 8, with its alliteration, assonance and consonance. I also like the double “refrain” at the end. Thank you for sharing this poem.

    Reply
  8. Leonard Dabydeen

    You have captured the US Midterm Elections 2018 with a beautiful rhyme scheme. So unbiased in partisan outlook between blue and red. TFS, Brice U. Lawseed.

    Reply
  9. Brice U. Lawseed

    I do enjoy it when Mr. Stone critiques a poem. He brings up important questions about the composition of a work. Sometimes, as in the case of an ekphrastic poem I wrote earlier this year—”Crossing the Swamp by Jon MacNaughton”—his note caused me to revise the ending couplet. Think, for example, how much T. S. Eliot revised “The Wasteland” due to Ezra Pound, and as well himself. Let me try to answer his points, first on “US Midterms 2018”.

    1. Mr. Stone is right; I did feel L3 & L4 were awkward (I particularly didn’t like the word proclaim.), as I am striving for a smooth prosaic line (cf. T. S. Eliot); however, I am not prepared to break the meter. So my fix (I feel like Vergil, pouring over his lines.) is

    America continues in divided government,
    as it has since George Washington was our first president.

    Unfortunately it has already had a second printing in its previous form (though I must admit this is extraordinary territory for verbal analysis, cf. Whitman); but from now on it will be in the revised form. Note Mr. Stone’s poetic opening “as it has since”, with the placement of George pulls the line through iambically.

    2. Again Mr. Stone is correct as to L6 being “disquieting”, but I didn’t intend to have another verb for various reasons. L5 I won’t change at the end, as Mr. Stone suggests, because I want the word but to emphasize the conflict between unity and freedom; though Mr. Stone did get the missing word I wanted for L6: with. An easy fix would be his suggestion,

    elections put a check upon unbridled tyranny, or

    elections are a check upon unbridled tyranny;

    but, perhaps surprisingly, I am not suggesting that. I am stating that they forged a nation with elections. For now, I will simply place a comma…and see if anything else bubbles up from my subconsciousness in time.

    elections, as a check upon unbridled tyranny.

    3. SCP readers, Mr. Stone is a remarkable reader. (I really wonder if he is the best reader in America—He catches the very spots I am uneasy about.) Anyway, in L7 I had “one individu’l’s (4 syllables) hands” before I replaced it. I don’t like either, and I don’t like the metaphor.

    4. Mr. Stone’s fix is better for L7; however, I won’t change L8 because I am pleased with the phrasing, the alliteration, and the meter.

    Three branches keep control out of a single sector’s hands;
    no entity possessing unconditional command.

    5. Here I disagree with Mr. Stone, as I do with so many others @SCP. I don’t mind beginning, using, or ending with approximate rhyme—or no rhyme at all. I think approximate rhyme does incredible things, not least of which, it shows “disquiet”. Mr. Salemi quoted Henry George Fischer (1923-2005) for avoiding a final slant rhyme; and many others, including Mr. Stone, chime in; but here it works for me. I agree with Ms. Foreman and the placement of the last four rhymes: aaaa, or a modified, a1, a, a, a1. The a (as in bat) contrasts with the e (as in bet) in the first four lines, and with the central e (as in beet). Also the word democracy balances republic, one of several balances in the tennos; the one which Mr. Dabydeen pointed out (tfr).

    6. Despite his humble note, I don’t think Mr. Stone’s comments are minor at all; and they remind me, that when one writes spontaneously, which is central to my poetic vision, craftmanship alters every moment in the production of a work; in short, whatever inspiration there is in any creation of a work, it cannot be exactly the same throughout—every second is unique. Another thing I notice, as I’m writing a work, I have various attitudes to each line, sentence, idea, etc.

    The following comments are in reference to “Hate Speech Is Any Speech…”

    7. I am not interested in the dactyl at all right now (I spent years working and thinking through it). Mr. Stone is correct, the phrase hate speech is not iambic; however, in this context, I like the spondee; after all, it’s the central theme of the poem.

    8. That is the point of mediums, by the way; people who communicate with spirits is the intended meaning, and with all that implies. The central tactical rhetorical devices in play in “Hate Speech” are repetition and punning. Notice that in this poem the rhymes are all exact—ironically for me a trigger that the work may not be that serious. Rhyme, at times, is a detriment, which Shakespeare, Milton, and Wordsworth, inter alia, also knew.

    9. I am glad Mr. Stone appreciated the assonance and consonance of L8.

    10. Finally, I very much appreciate Mr. Stone’s attention to detail. He has a subtlety I have not seen in any other writer @SCP. Occasionally other writers, like Ms. Foreman, for example, have brilliant critical flashes. Though, of course, as many here @ SCP, he is outside the grand poetic, critical tradition; what is so refreshing is his honesty; I wish I could be so honest and so thorough when looking at another’s work; and I hope we hear more from him, because he is an inspiration—to me.

    Reply

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