Readers of several Indiana newspapers were admonished by journalist John Krull in a recent column about the planned dam on White River to avoid elevated emotions, yelling, and resorting to rhetoric. That admonition seems a bit contrived and patronizing considering that there have been no raised voices that I’m aware of in the year and a half that the destructive plan has been critiqued and criticized.
Yes, of course, we should all be respectful and civil and not attack or vllify those with different goals and adverse financial interests. I’d posit that the dam’s opponents have taken pains to be especially respectful.
Sometimes poetry can help to mitigate pent up emotions.
Last weekend at a naturalists’ conference, I picked up a copy of Another Way, a poetry chapbook by Thomas Tokarski. Thomas and wife Sandra led the fight against the new-terrain I-69 which several former governors pushed through despite its many drawbacks.
In Red Poppies, Tokarski obviously takes aim at the proponents of such destructive schemes.
“I ask him to see the universe,
the creatures of the forests and fields,
but he is afraid of his uncertainties,
afraid of silence, darkness
and the caverns of the night sky,
afraid of being alone.
Proudly self-assured in his crowd,
consequences of his creed unexamined,
nothing is beyond him but humility,
and responsibility when things go wrong.
His eyes see what can be used, soon,
his mind focused on a prosperity
that comes as quickly as a riot.
Looking past the reason in trees,
the music of grasses and pure air,
the complexity and mystery lurking
in quiet places, he calculates wealth
in the loss of all that put us here,
all that could take us beyond here.
To his vision of perfect control,
where the earth becomes a decoration
for man’s pleasure,
while the essence is covered
with flashing lights and concrete,
he asks, in his kindly voice,
that we all submit.
And the red poppies that grow wild
among the stones
are invisible to him.”
Red Poppies reminded me of Pattiann Rogers’ powerful poem,
The Nature of the Huckster:
“Put on his garment of rain,
came swaying in silver across the garden,
his fragrance of clarity preceding him.
Put on his garment of theft,
stole the seeds of the pecan,
the eggs of the horseshoe crab,
roe of cod, roe of mackerel,
stole the children’s gold and purple marbles,
stole breath, stole fever.
Filled his pockets with blood.
Filled his pockets with charity.
Emptied his pockets of confetti-feathers and bones.
Emptied his pockets of beetle menageries.
Over his mantle of frost,
donned his mantle of sun.
Over his many-colored coat of deception,
put on his many-colored robe of verisimilitude.
Under his attire of aridity,
wore his thunder cloak of deluge.
Put on his robe of celibacy
Put on his jewelry of prostitution.
Traded his garment of frivolity.
Bartered his overcoat of constancy.
Shucked his shawl of grief.
Threw off his hood of sanity
Under his silk cape of surrender,
clothed himself in his steel vestment of siege.
Arrayed himself in his garment of disdain.
Covered himself in his rags of spring.
Wrapped himself in his blankets of faith.
Discarded his garment of life.
Donned his garment of death.
Put on his garment of matter.
Took off his garment of light.
Discarded his garment of decay.
Put on his garment of lies.
Paraded back and forth, plain and invisible
in his ruse of apparel,
hawking, all the while, himself. Take him.”