Monday, January 21, 2013

Inauguration Day

All over the country citizens wake up
angry, happy or indifferent.

It is snowing, or it is not snowing.
It is a holiday, or they have to go to work

where some will wear a suit and tie
and some will pull Carhartt overalls

over long underwear, climb power
poles and restore heat broken in reckless wind

and televisions that will or will not be tuned in
to witness a black president sworn in

a second time, of a nation that may lead the world
or not, in what is best and worst in everyone

so painfully apparent all in one place
that is or is not somehow even one place.

What this citizen longs for most
when I watch the ceremony on television

is just a good poem that will make my mind forget
for a few moments what my heart does not understand.


  1. I, too, will be tuned in -- thousands of miles away, but happy and relieved that my choice was re-elected -- but so aware of the unhappiness of others -- much as I was unhappy in 2000 and 2004. Joy and sadness are such a close-run thing...

    1. Yes. I think our hopes edge us too far into fantasy and our dreads too far into fear. For me, the key is to find a realistic place to view it all from and live as wholly as I can.

  2. How can we possibly resolve the dichotomies of our country right now, Ruth! I have no idea. But we did before and we'll do it again. Let's rejoice in this one day and moment of greatness!

    1. Boots, as I said at FB, it is a poem in praise of the one light each of us reaches for through our own story — our own breath, our own sound, our own hands' work. The evening of the poem ends at home, and I wonder if we can really feel it, map it, create it — together. I confess I feel that the poem is more hopeful than I am, but maybe that is because I am stepping outside the moment.

  3. It was a wonderful morning! And a notable poem!

    1. Rosaria, I agree. Ceremony is moving, and I am moved. Sometimes we need these rallies in our spirits.

  4. So true indeed. I have yet to hear the poem and see the ceremony as we were out playing with the children.
    Your opening reflects so well, I think, the curious malaise --the exhale when (thank God) it wasn't Romney, but feeling the pain of a president who wants to do so much and has to fight fight fight every tiny inch against a very sad element.....
    Gosh, do they make doing the right (left?!) thing tough indeed.
    What a curious country we inhabit!

    1. Elizabeth, it's all so stale, with little actually accomplished. Between a two party system, and the lobbyists who pay them, I'm afraid we will not be out of this stalemate any time soon. But I hope I am wrong, and that the inaugural poet is right to hope.

  5. It's no easy matter to live fully with incompleteness and all the rest of our current realities. But we go forward together as the leaven in this dough.

    1. Mary, thank you for bringing my sentiments at small into this space; it is highly relevant. Thank you also for the quiet reminder that what we do to move forward is often invisible, though hopefully not silent.

  6. in Brazil they have instituted a mandatory three year term, for all high-school students in order that they train a future voting investigation of philosophy. yes, they want their citizens to be able to critically think based on a structure derived from the investigation of fundamental philosophies, an exploration of the individual mind, not just the simple re-uttering of historical philosophies. now, of course, this can be dangerous depending on who decides to teach what, but... it is something.

    how to resolve the dichotomies of the country? i'm afraid it is an expansive question with no easy answer but the answer must begin with the citizen, as you suggest, and as citizens we must demand more of our politicians. we must be critical thinkers and not lazily lay back on what it is we think we believe in but instead honestly investigate it. in other words, we must listen to all sides of each issue and arrive at thoughtful solutions.

    there was an interesting interview on canadian radio that is worth noting. it's the same interview which references the changes in Brazil. it can be listened to by going here and clicking on listen (it's the second half of the program):

    Carlos Fraenkel, a philosophy professor, makes an important point. he says very early in life he noticed that generally speaking christians are born to christians and muslims to muslims and so on. what does this then mean to how we believe and how, living from the core of our own belief structures, we do not hear one another? i dare say it is the same about democrats and republicans. we must be willing to look beyond our belief structures and hear one another, no matter how difficult it may be. we need to stop basing our decisions on winning and flexing power (and alienating the opposite voting populace so that we might garner points for the next election) and instead make our decisions based on the good of a nation, the necessary good of the world.

    and this is just a beginning...:)

    apathy will get us nowhere. divisiveness, hate and blame...nowhere. do we want to go nowhere? while we are so busy going nowhere the world is falling out beneath our feet.

    this poem is important. this topic is important. what do we want from this life? what should we want?


    1. Erin, I agree 150% with everything you've written.

      I have heard that Sandra Day O'Connor, a former Supreme Court Justice, has begun a program for young people in civics. This is also a start. One of the most distressing parts of the Great Divide is how people speak to each other, ears closed. Name calling, disgust, etc. I also love the idea of young people learning to think for themselves. To me this is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing a citizen can do.

      The great challenge, I feel, is getting from these beliefs we have to the kind of change that needs to happen in people's hearts. It is one thing to change policies, laws, and regulations in order to better protect and care for the world's citizens (and for the dear earth Herself), and quite another to convince anyone that what they want to do with their world is the problem, quite apart from legislation. Ignorance, and a willingness to follow their delicious (to them) path of hatred and fear, are almost impregnable walls, because they exist in their interior where only they can change themselves.

      I need to change too, and because of this, I hesitate to declare that I want to change the world. I want to change myself, first and foremost.

  7. Lovely, Ruth. Would have commented yesterday, but we were there in the stands on the parade route. Michelle Obama walked within a few feet of my grandson, Brody, looked him in the eyes and threw him a kiss. We were all smitten, especially Brody.

    1. What a beautiful experience, George. I in turn am smitten.


All responses are welcome.