Too much talk of revolution
makes me hungry, and there
is little in the fridge that makes
one believe in a better world:
strawberries growing mold too
soon, asparagus I’m unlikely
to prepare, all of it bound either
for the compost or the toilet,
and how are we not to grow
cynical, how are we to escape
this humdrum life of leisure,
this talk and talk that doesn’t
bleed? And what do the maimed
want, those buried beneath the
rubble, choking on dust and
feeling around for lost limbs?
Am I to be a spokesman for
them? Are you? Sous le pavés,
la plage!—beneath the cobblestones,
the beach!—they cried in Paris
in 1968, when revolution was
in the air, in the hearts of students
the world over. How many went
on to humdrum lives of leisure,
sipping wine and reading political
treatises after a day at some job?
Today again the students are mad.
They call for ceasefires and
divestment, no war for oil, no police
brutality, no ideals left to rot like
uneaten fruit. It’s easy to laugh off
the young, yet we were all young once
and thought love was forever ecstatic
and the heart could never grow old.
I am not so old myself, though I hurt
my back the other day and hobble
to the fridge between meetings, between
poems, between dreams tempered
by pain and loss and disillusion.
All I know is if you touch a nerve
it can hurt or arouse or both, and when
the cynic goes to bed with the idealist
there is no more talk, for all of life becomes
hips and lips and limbs, and even after
we are too content to care about our
violent disagreements, at least for a while…
at least for a blissful while.