“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Friday, May 23, 2008

the senators from history

Ten years ago, I wrote a poem titled "The Senator from South Carolina". It was a "tribute," if that's the word, to Strom Thurmond (still kicking at the time), but it was really about the great, tragic and comedic history contained in the institutional memory of the Senate: something that would be lost if the well-meaning but misguided backers of term limits ever had their way.

We are, perhaps, preparing to lose another connection to the past. There will be a time, hopefully later but perhaps soon, to think back on Kennedy, but for now it might be a good time to revisit "The Senator from South Carolina":

My head was howling; ten times ten-thousand memories.
I walked down halls festooned perversely
with trappings of Power. Weak, small-minded men,
who wore their Modern garments-- those three-piece suits!
those power ties!-- like weapons. How I spit
out these words. They do not nourish me.
I was born in a cave six-thousand years ago,
helped build society in an Age of Fear.
I knew Romulus. I knew Remus.
And when confronted with the simpering Visage
of your "politicos" (how I loath
that word), I weep. I weep for your world.
I have to laugh at Modern Sensibilities
you wear so proudly like a shield with a Crest
of Thorns, a foolish coward behind it. Listen:
I spoke for gods in less egalitarian times.
I used beheadings to stifle dissent,
had men drawn and quartered, laughed at their pain,
smeared their blood on my face and condemned
their souls to Hell. I am limited
by Democracy, its creeping mediocrity.
I, who have watched the greatest of mountains erode
now walk in shadows. I am a Player, who strutted
his sixty centuries, upon that well-lit stage.
I will be heard forevermore.