"The Comedian" and "Faneuil Hall"

The Comedian

for Michael Moore

The way the comedian
tells the joke
& everyone laughs and laughs
because it is as funny as hell
but also because it says
something serious
about race & sex & class in America
but it is not a bomb 
or a hate letter
it is in the form of a joke
so you can't touch him
& what is the matter, buddy,
you can't take a joke
this is America
as the guy at the coffee shop
loves to tell me
whatever that means
as I hand over the $1.50
to buy my newspaper
while the poor are shafted every day
& the rich grow richer
and black panthers fighting back
were assassinated
for saying some of the same things
but this guy!
this guy does his number 
with the greatest of ease
health care for profit 
professional wrestling
Democrats and Republicans  
and the powers that be!
nothing escapes
the flying leaps
of his monologue   
as when an acrobat balances
on the slenderest of wires 
and does not fall
to his death beneath
it makes me want to dance
and sing!
the way the comedian
tells the joke!
and everyone laughs and laughs



Faneuil Hall

We come to Faneuil Hall,
where legendary meetings
were planned by U.S. revolutionaries
against the infamous British government.
Sam Adams spoke here,
our guide tells us,
and Hancock and Revere,
and one evening it was decided
to write the Articles
of Confederation.
We come to Faneuil Hall,
wide eyed, like refugees
from some greater disaster,
or like pilgrims
cast upon the beach,
searching for something,
a seed of fire
perhaps, or a glint
on the walnut tabletops
from our own
dubious future.
The question of slavery was tabled
for a future generation
and Paine spoke of a  need for struggle
against the new lords
of America.
We come to Faneuil Hall,
pit stop on the long road,
wreckage of monopoly capital
all around us,       
gaze up and wonder
at the gilded ceiling.
Troops opened fire
on the Whiskey Boys.
Paine moved to France.
Manifest Destiny up for grabs,
Hamilton landed the treasury.
Two centuries later
Faneuil Hall is still a political center.
Community organizations meet here,
such as the Red Cross.
And to this day,
says our tour guide,
with a twinkle in his eye,
true to this tradition,
Faneuil Hall is open for any citizen
to hold public meetings --
as long as one doesn't
advocate the overthrow
of the U.S. government.



Chris Butters has been published in Paterson Literary Review, Chiron Review, Blue Collar Review, Home Planet News Online and dispatchespoetrywars.com. He is the previous coproducer of WBAI-FM's weekly Arts Express radio show in New York City. He recommends the Police Reform Organizing Project.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Sunday, December 10, 2023 - 20:59