Changes

Mail call, salvation in the field
Look, another book from my aunt
Shit. More poetry
and I thought I asked her to
send me dirty magazines
like she used to for my uncle

She says that was another time
Another place
Another war

Sandburg, is this guy Jewish?
Whatever, I’ll take a look
Bunch of stuff about Chicago
and I’ve never even been there
Whatever

A phrase catches my eye
“A Million Young Work Men”
First, I thought it would be like
A Million Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong
but I was wrong and now
I wish I’d never read it

Shit about dead young men from
two sides of a war and all of them
cold underground, slaughtered each other
for no reason at all except to make
their leaders fat and happy and rich

And then this poet, Sandburg
dreams of their bloodgutted ghosts
They all rise up out of graves and scream
Damn the czar and Damn the Kaiser
(I thought that was a roll, whatever)

But that was another time
Another place
Another war

We’re not in this because anyone
is gonna make money or score points
We’re in this because we are patriots
and we’re gonna teach these muzzlims
democracy, even if it kills us

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Fireblossom’s prompt at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads is tricky today: Find a poem you love, then write a poem about that one, first person, third person, fiction or real, anything goes. Hers, about a man reading Byron to a young woman, seducing her with the words of a long-gone poet, really hit home. Read it HERE, it’s terrific. This is also “in the margins” at Poets United.

I love Sandburg in all his incarnations, especially his Chicago poems, because he deals with social justice in layspeak. Never talking above the reader, his words are carefully chosen and deceptively ordinary; yet, the power of his convictions is clear. I wrote this as an aunt trying to connect with a nephew serving in Afghanistan. His through brainwashing makes it clear: The Powers That Be have won… again.

Thanks for reading, and peace, Amy