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I Wish I Was a Poet


I wish I was a poet because only poetry remains to convey the depth of my fear. All the prose has been used up. Trite from exposure.


If I was a poet, strangers would read my poem and my fear would be transfused into their hearts. My poem would be that good, that true. Strangers would know I’m frightened because my country, my neighborhood, my street, as I knew them, are gone, changed, and not coming back.


The change is subtle. A passerby may not notice. But the easy, light vibration that was here before is gone. The contented strum with melodic highs and lows has stopped. Now the vibration is a rumble, like a column of Abrams tanks rolling down Lynnhaven Drive cutting through to West Great Neck.


But it’s not tanks. It’s lines of Super Duty pick-ups, red ones with Confederate flags streaming from staffs attached to the cabs, and black ones with assault rifle decals on the back windows. One after another. Their vibrations pound the asphalt and my heart.


I’m frightened because people, all kinds of people, lift up a man so despicable and clearly deranged that if he were not an ex-president he would be confined. I cannot grasp this. It’s as if the earth’s magnetic field has shifted, twisting some people’s brain waves and destroyed their logic. They are ignorant slaves. They are content and oblivious while the rest of us are aghast and terrified.


If I was a poet I’d write a poem alerting strangers that prophecies of a second civil war are now common and casual. Code words, dog whistles, bible passages meant as calls-to-arms are now open, ordinary. I try to think of how I will hide because I will be the enemy. “Boogaloo” is not a new dance, nor a home brew out of Appalachia. It’s something so bad you better hope your teenager doesn’t know what it means. One hint: The Southern Poverty Law Center reports a fifty-five percent increase in hate groups since 2017. It’s not my imagination, there are more of them, and they are organizing.


I wish I was a poet so I could write a poem to ease my fear, to make me brave, and to warn my tribe.

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