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The Inner Part -- Louis Simpson

Guest poem sent in by Bob Fish
(Poem #1449) The Inner Part
 When they had won the war
 And for the first time in history
 Americans were the most important people --
 When the leading citizens no longer lived in their shirtsleeves
 and their wives did not scratch in public
 Just when they'd stopped saying "Gosh" --
 When their daughters seemed as sensitive
 as the tip of a fly rod,
 and their sons were as smooth as a V-8 engine --
 Priests, examining the entrails of birds,
 Found the heart misplaced, and seeds
 As black as death, emitting a strange odor.
-- Louis Simpson
Reading Yehuda Amichai's poem, "The Diameter of the Bomb" [Poem #1448] made
me think of the awful diameter of American political hegemony in the world
today and brought this poem by Jamaican-born poet Louis Simpson to mind. I
have long admired the economy with which he paints this ominous augury,
re-claiming the priestly mantle for the contemporary poet. Just a few
carefully selected swaths of a brush effectively paint a picture of a gawky,
adolescent American society coming out of the World Wars, proud and slightly
naive about it's newfound status. Progress through technology would be the
new religion that would shape the planet in a benevolent Pax Americana.

Then, with a startlingly glorious turn at the word "Priests," Simpson
skewers the modern political pretension with a reminder of the ancient
mysteries, confirming that the sources of true life-sustaining power remain
elusive, dark and primordial. America's current hubristic foreign policy
clearly indicates this is a lesson we are still obstinately unwilling to
learn.

--Bob Fish

[Links]

Biography: [broken link] http://www.poets.org/poets/poets.cfm?45442B7C000C0E02

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