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Thursday, November 12, 2015

a president's poem



Are you somebody

who worries whether

you feel as if you feel

voices have been overwhelmed to pass the time


Part of the challenge

is a common conversation ---

stuff that reinforces

why our politics has gotten so polarized


Some new thing has happened ---

a pessimism ---

good people in some quiet place

that did something sensible


And it's all in rap and hip hop,

this vibrancy of American democracy.

Famously ahistorical.

That's one of our strengths.

We forget things.  Bloody arguments.


You don't know much

about the evolution of slavery;

African Americans seem pretty foreign,

thinking about the separation

of church and state


Yes.  We're going through

a spasm of fear.

One of the easiest places to go

is somebody else to blame --

but go ahead


We believed, we welcomed

without being utterly destitute


I'm listening to folk

making these wild claims---

it's embarrassing

when you go to other airports in other countries


When people feel pinched

the generosity you describe narrows.

We have a dissatisfaction gene.

That can be healthy.  A good restlessness.

They don't feel affirmed if they're good.

                                                                                                A PRESIDENT'S POEM, p. 2.



Somebody was looking

like your definition of what

America and freedom should be

when you think about your faith.


Turn off the media for a week.

Come out the other side

with a different anthropology.


What makes you think

this experiment will keep going


I'll try to make...I'll try to persuade

the next time,

but that requires

presumption of goodness.


That's not what our democracy depends on.

That's what a good life depends on.


You'll be disappointed.

Your faith will be confirmed.



Jerry W. Ward, Jr.

November 12, 2015


**Confession:   This poem was plagiarized from President Barack Obama's conversation

with Marilynne Robinson, September 14, 2015.


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