Ode to the Laughing Man
The morning light, still before dawn,
Creeps around table, the chairs, the end of the bed
Lets me see their shapes as if in the night
Their edges had all softened, become indistinct,
And the breeze ripples lightly across my skin
Bringing with it intense, sweet fragrance
From the lilacs in the courtyard. I love watching
The early morning light define my surroundings:
I love inhaling this late May scent that has, since childhood,
Signified pleasure. And still, and then
The light reveals
Bodies of the bombed,
The fragrance cannot hide
The stench of sewage in our waters.
This morning, and yesterday, and probably tomorrow
I think of Bertolt Brecht, writing
Ah, what an age it is
When to speak of trees is almost a crime
For it is a kind of silence about injustice!
I love to walk into the garden
Where purple salvia run riot
Interrupted by pink columbines at play,
Magenta spiderwort wave at me in the wind,
And my neighbor stops to gossip
About hosta, peonies, and we laugh
About the advancing violets,
Even about the dandelions,
About their bitter greens in a salad.
We smile, we laugh, and laugh.
He who laughs
Has not yet heard
The terrible tidings.
Brecht wrote that too. But
I’ve heard the terrible tidings.
And yet I speak of trees,
Because after capitalism that is what we will do.
It is a crime to dwell on capital’s depravity,
Its descent into fascism,
Without envisioning what’s possible and necessary
What needs to be accomplished by the only ones who can.
There is but one reason to talk about
Doom and gloom.
Everything or nothing.
All of us or none.