For generals to arrest or kill.
It’s their weakness that makes them a threat,
Since if any such piddling persons
Can get away with thumbing noses
At the authorities of great states,
It makes powerful leaders look weak,
And we can’t have that. But even then,
At their worst, they’re not much of a threat.
Poets get arrested and murdered
Since, of all the threats posed to the State,
Poets are the easiest to catch.
They make the best targets, few and cheap,
And they seem glad of the attention,
When they survive it. Fellow poets,
The ones not arrested, can take pride
In belonging to such a brave tribe.
It’s only the patterns in language,
Of course, that last long enough to fight
Things through—poems against the powerful
Glow longer half-lives than power does.