Written for and presented on June 12, 2011 at the Nassau County
Poet Laureate Induction for Dr. Lynda Opyr. And published in Bards Annual 2011.
Are you kidding?
What the heck is wrong with you?
This is a day and age of the hi-tech.
You thought television would change the way we think,
try the internet!
Try those 33 second Youtube poops,
the 12 second ads
the 300 word articles
the split second instant gratification that people have come
in an A.D.D. prescribed society
lowering our attention spans even further
combined with the 70-80 hour work week average
fast paced, stop and go
gotta be somewhere else right now ten minutes ago speed
that has planted its seed
in our minds growing into our reality
no one has the want, need, or time
to sit there and read.
Large conglomerates spend billions of dollars
on one minute commercials that people don’t even notice.
Corporations are vying for our attention with every cent they have
and still don’t always get it.
People are so distracted they don’t even know what goes on
in the white house anymore.
When taking all that into consideration,
what do you,
what can you,
honestly expect a poet to do?
one person with a pen and paper postulating,
observing the humor, heartbreak, inconsistencies, hypocrisies,
joys, kindness and all the other scattered phenomena of our
records it in admittedly elegant verse from their perspective.
How is that supposed to work in a world where
You ask anyone under 20 “Who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue”
have no clue.
But you ask them “who lives in a pineapple under the sea”
and they know
When the government spends billions of dollars,
imprisoning the children for 8 hours a day
trying with all their might to get through to them,
and still manage to get ignored,
what can a poet do?
I guess we could notice that no one cares…they don’t give a shit!
We could write about it—put our own spin on it
make it sound all fancified.
Maybe we could put into words a notion
that no one has yet made the motion
to preserve and pass on.
Maybe if we pen our postulations
And passed them to the person to the right of us
We would discover that on occasion
They’ve noticed exactly what we’ve noticed.
We forget that once upon a time before America was its own nation
Everyone noticed that taxation without representation was bullshit
That arrests without warrant or charge was not justice
But so many remained silent,
Until the first few
The founding fathers stepped forward to say what was what.
It took the penning of the declaration of independence
Which was poetic in itself to put forth the truth.
Maybe even now our observations, the little things we notice,
That traffic cameras don’t really make the roads safer,
That more restrictions on drinking only makes the kids want
to drink more,
That women despite “equality” spend just as much time doing
housework as they did in the fifties only now work a full time job to
go with it…
Maybe more people have realized these things than we realize.
Yet everyone keeps silent because they feel they are alone
in their thoughts.
Maybe if we write about them, read them, go up in front of a
group and perform them
Other people will sense a familiarity in our words…
And that muse that made us move our pens will go to them
and do the exact same thing
and they’ll share what they’ve seen,
slowly but surely the observations will spread
the familiarity grabbing people out of their cubicles,
the internet infested
television troubled domiciles
putting away the hi-tech fancy billion dollar attempts at their
attention to give their focus
on the one thing that commercials, ads, government money and
all the technology in the world can’t give them…
And maybe when they go back to their blog posts and facebook
they will be inclined
To spread these observations
Maybe they will grow.
Maybe all it takes, in the words of Thomas Jefferson
the poet who gave us our nation with his pen:
“To place before mankind the common sense of the subject
in terms so plain and firm as to command their ascent.”
THAT is the power of poetry!
And just because our duties are harder to perform
does not excuse us from our responsibility to give it our all.
What can a poet do, you ask?
From one point of view once upon a time a poet gave us
That was then, this is now, when the spread of information has never
What can a poet do?
What can a poet do? A poet can tell the truth…
And what can the truth do?
More than I could imagine…