Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Batagai Slump

"Sitting at my table in my only chair"
Doubtful anyone’s practiced
The slogan, “All Lives Matter.”

All? Ants’ lives? Murderers’ lives?
Naegleria fowleri?

Nonetheless, a young woman
With a bumper-stickered car

In a Utah parking lot
In the summer of strange plague

Says so aloud. She’s talking
To a stooped, white-haired woman

In the desert morning’s sun
About all that’s on her mind—

“Oh, Fauci. He’s bad. He’s bad.
He lies. He lies through his teeth.”

Interesting to overhear
In passing. In a few years,

That name will be forgotten,
More or less, a reference,

Then the president he serves
And whom her stickers adore—

Her hero, it seems, the one
With the countable records

For stating maybe the most
Lies ever, most openly,

Often, most frequently caught.
Perhaps all lies don’t matter.

It seems a liar’s not one
Who tells lies but one who says

Things that we really don’t like.
I’ve never met a human

I suspected never lied.
It would be so alien.

The best lies we tell ourselves,
Such as that we’re not liars,

That we know who liars are.
This too will be forgotten

And is forgotten daily.
Someday, just historians,

And not all of them, at that,
Will study this twisted plague,

One year on a calendar
Until calendars are gone,

One year that a president
Sent troops to club protestors,

One year slogans did battle,
One year corruption triumphed,

One year so like and unlike
All others full of liars,

One year so many hotheads
And factories and engines

Had warmed our planet so much
A vast slump had opened up,

Ray-shaped gap in permafrost
Deep enough to abseil down

A few hundred thousand years
To when there were no liars,

In that neighborhood at least,
No parking lots, no stickers,

No gas-happy officers,
No presidents, supporters,

Or gods in the night. Just lives.
No lives matter to the night.

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