Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thoughts on listening to a public meeting

People assume,
when you live on an island,
that nothing is gritty there;
that graffiti is something
confined to the city;
that neighborly squabbles
rarely happen
and never lead to violence.

even the people who live here assume
that the most important thing
is to look nice,
not just, I mean, to look good,
but to look like you're a nice person -- you know --
Rational. Competent. Considerate.
Even when you are feeling nothing of the kind.

Listening to your carefully measured tones,
I sometimes miss
the cold occluded hills of New England
where people spoke their minds and raised their voices,
snarled when they were angry
and called a spade a spade  --
then helped you out of the ditch
when your car got stuck,
inviting you home for a cup of hot chocolate.

I wonder: can we ever truly forgive, or love,
if we don't admit to our anger;
pour it out, like the tide
that rushes into the lagoon at the end of the day,
and then -- also like the tide --
allow it to roll out again?
If there's a lesson learned, living here,
it's surely that the tide, once in, will always leave again,
carrying with it what it will
and bringing something new when it returns...

I sit and watch you hold it in for the camera,
hear the venom surging
beneath your honeyed voices;
(the ancient dukes of Venice, erecting barricades
to hold the rising sea at bay)
soothing, stroking, taming the fuming beast
until it seeps into the ground,
poisoning the very soil on which we stand;
(the piazza is sinking lower,
the acqua alta sirens sound;
we walk on elevated platforms
which give us the illusion
that we stand on higher ground.)

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