The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

October 15, 2006

Sondheim's "Lament for the Union Dead"

solo chromatic harmonica

Give The Female Pope a Rope

Too often have the forces gone astray
That force one's hand; and yet another day
Brings nothing new. Everything is lost
In this or other groping holocaust.
I write the only way I know how to;
Thus write reversed in letters as a Jew
Who claims his right to silent speech,
Lest some good offal - whom I won't beseech -
States, nothing is the same between us two;
You shouldn't speak unless you're spoken to.
I raise my Vajra, Siva's darkling spell
Holds me in thrall; I'll take you all to hell
And back, and forth, and all across the town
Of knaves and fools who want to hold me down.
My writing blisters, cuts the flesh, and seeps
Like acid on the eyes; the reader weeps -
She sees naught, hears what? I cannot guess -
Smells naught, breathes, and touches even less.
I claim the right to both the West and East
As Occident or Orient, I trample; I'm the beast
Of World Wars Three and Four, not to mention Five;
I flay men, women, children, skin theorists alive.
To hell with them who take words as the hammer
Meant for cruelty, for I'm a culture jammer:
And just as you speak from your flesh and blood
I speak your bones and body born of mud.
I take your words, and turn them inside-out
Until they scream forgiveness from your ugly mouth
That squeals traitor, revelation's sin -
You can't know what a State you've put me in.
I'll name it: State of Exculpation, Fear -
The State of Fabrication - I am the seer
Who speaks with bloody mouth, speaks to one and all -
Who leans with bloody back against the bloody wall
Where traitors die, where theory sickens, stains
While I remember boxcars, people, trains.
While I remember Beirut, Iraq, Iran,
Theory steps, confers, and to a man
Or woman sets up condemnation
In no uncertain terms! It tells the nation
Hold back, desist, go home, now end the war!
Books appear, and seminars, and more!
And manifestos filled with deconstruction,
Petitions, mandates, anything that sucks on
The use, employment, of illicit power -
For theory triumphs! This is theory's hour!
I'm on my side and I can only urge
I'm recognized as enemy or sourge -
It's all there, attested-to, I'm sure
Celia shits on me, my writing's but manure
Without the Jewels men wear; please don't sift -
There's nothing down there, just ask Doctor Swift.

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