Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Larry Smith's "Tu Fu Comes to Washington"

Larry Smith, poet, editor, and publisher of Bottom Dog Press, sent me along a resonant poem about Barack Obama. He catches something about Obama that I recognized immediately but had not put to words. What did Alexander Pope say about poetry?--"what oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed." I'll share mine a little later today. Welcome to the future, everyone.

Tu Fu Comes to Washington

A new leader has been called out
by those enslaved by the old--
a tyrant blind to his own heart.

My oldest boy lies buried
in a mound in Afghanistan.
My wife and children have moved
into the shelter in Cleveland,
and so I’ve hitched to the Capital,
walking half the way.

Many sleep dreamless in the streets here
jobless and hungry for hope,
all of us conscripted to the banks.
A heavy snow lies about avenues,
a cold wind blows through the parks.

I rise from cardboard, stand in door fronts
imagine the faces of my wife and children
standing in line for oatmeal and bread.

No wonder we gather at shop windows
to watch news of a leader risen among us.
His face smiles with kindness, and yet
in that sadness about the eyes
lies our real hope.

--Larry Smith

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