Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Poll-Watching at the Milennium

Poll-Watching at the Milennium
by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

Punching the wings of butterflies,
We wonder what will be left intact?
4 scores and 7 terms ago, I was once a child.
I was once a believer.  I was once a voter. 
I was once a dreamer.  I was once a journalist.
I was once a leader.  I was once a politician.
I was once an American.

Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…

I was once a child with unheard of dreams.
Something like freedom, for those who are qualified
(Where’s your qualification) to decide.

Putting pens to the page,
They painted the family portrait:
We the people of the United States…

Dear George Washington, John Hancock, Ben Franklin…
This is an open letter from a little yellow girl in the year 2008
I wish I could have put your powdered wig on for the day,
Understood how it feels to have such a heavy question
On my head: “How should a nation be made?”
If we, as a country, could craft a fresh start, be reborn,
With all the memory of the mistakes of this life.

But I have seen the enemy, and the enemy
Is counting dimples, days, and decisions.
Is waiting for the right candidate to run.
Is hoping for more soft core porn.
Is blaming they, society, and everyone.

Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…

I have met the enemies and the enemies are
Deadbeat dads, cheating husbands, drug pushers, pimps,
The same shrewd hustlers, the leaders of our land,
Signing laws into life, lives into loot,
>From ghetto to suburb to farm,
There is a unifying discontent,
Our representatives, smug by power,
Inhuman by distortion. 
After so much, knuckle-pointing
Preaching and propaganda
As to why I (camera flash flash)
why I (camera flash flash)
Am deserve more to decide
What the boundaries of our logic and values permit.
More than him or her or you.
Yes, any of you.

So why would I appeal to your vision, count your vote
When you know that I am of excellent breeding,
Expensive education and superior moral fiiber,
And you must agree because you elected me
    Well, more often than not, you didn’t but that’s neither here nor there.
Relax, I’ll take care of everything.
I can run your life better than you can anyway.
Go on now, so sweet to sleep, isn’t it?

And in my dreams, Thomas Jefferson taps his teacup on the table.
The founders, presidents, governors, mayors, and aldermen
Are looking anxious, bored, and indignant.
“Not to worry, my dear brothers, not to worry” he says.

Standing in the corner of the room, I am small servant to their concerns.
My knowledge no match, I do not speak.
I watch them draft the changes of our lives with nothing to say.

Suddenly, grapes come carried in a copper bowl by calloused hands.
I follow the arms up to Cesar Chavez who winks and smiles.
The rumble burbles under my feet as as Harriet Tubman
Bangs on the floorboards from the wine cellar.
In the kitchen, Upton Sinclair picks a steak up off the floor.
In the bedroom, Angela Davis breaks bristles off of hairbrushes
And arranges them askew on dressing tables.
>From the staircase, Wen Ho Lee surveys the scene,
Since nobody really knows what the Chinaman does anyway.

On the lawn, I see so many people, whose faces I can’t make out,
Whose bodies shaped by labor sometimes find an arrowhead lodged in the soil.
Their faces faint but plentiful like the jedi whispers inside:
I’ll organize the workers.
I’ll serve this one nation under God.
I’ll blow the whistle on business.
I’ll sing away our blues.
I’ll demand and risk for what I believe.
I’ll cut up their clothes.
I’ll poison their food.
I’ll blow the electoral college up.
I’ll teach those who cast the votes and count the votes.
I’ll make their promises come true for all of us:
Felons, children, immigrants, citizens.
All the voices swell and say: what will you do?
The count of three, we creep closer.  Now, I see sweat stain their collars. 
They look up find cold poor huddled masses, sprung from waiting in the wings.
No more cookies, no more tea, disarmed to mortal form,
Here at pointe blank.  Pitchforks, ninja stars, brass knuckles,
Brick and mortar of our minds, watchful eyes in our heads,
Voting ballots held high in our hands,
What will we do?
Eyes closed and dreaming…

Oh, say can you see…
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