"The people, no," "Service department," and "Our beating gourd"

The people, no

 The people sleep
Ai! Ai! the people sleep

                        -Carl Sandburg
The Windsor royals know
they are not supposed to
weigh in
do any
just show up in Chanel
cut ribbons and smile
remaining a symbol
of regal silence 
in their draughty castles
But in America
the people, no
oh no
they are not royals
(even if every man a king)
they, too, are taught
to show up
in their bargain-basement buys
never to weigh in
on policy
just applaud at the applause cue
then go back and redistribute
interest payments on their credit debt
To be political
should be as simple
as writing a campaign check
with this month’s social security payment
(there’s another tax cut for you)
then giving your doctor a chicken for a checkup
that’s a perfectly proper payment
though it sure as shit isn’t posting a letter
taking the newspaper
or receiving your ballot
because you can get the Daily Caller
and Twitter over dial-up internet
Better yet
put on that personal
protective gear
because the virus of democracy
assaults in Times Square
you wear your hair in a fashion
someone high up considers a weapon
legislation to stop-and-frisk
your plaits and dreads
is a security measure
an anti-fraud gesture
since you are fronting for
the republic of color
you said you saw red people
living up on Mount Rushmore
The people, no
they cannot see
not yet because
cancelling medical
and student
would give us all
time to think
which we shall not do
since none of this
would ever have happened
if Clinton
had simply campaigned
in her fire wall
(don’t you know).



Service department

Baseball can be a violent game
the way it steals home
in road hotels
paying the piper of perpetual safety
by playing the owner’s game
having tipped its diffident cap
to men like old Judge Landis
the Reserve Clause segregationist
His honor had to die before
Robinson and Doby could suit up
and old Satch make his pitch
but while we are on matters such as this:
Did you know that Black Sox ace
Eddie Cicotte who was banned for life
by Landis after throwing a World Series
ended up as one of Henry Ford’s toughs
working labor relations at River Rouge?
Eddie may have pitched his fists
at the “Battle of the Overpass”
perhaps he took a few teeth with him 
I suspect had he then gone back to see the judge
wearing his Service Department threads from Ford’s
that Landis would have been impressed
and brought Cicotte back to play ball
Provided he didn’t ask for a pension.



Our beating gourd

Because they believe that water is mute
dikes and levies have been built
but water remains wet
so dryness cannot be truth
We will meet soon as rivers
When bridges, tunnels, and borders
are raised to prevent us from crossing
the great water’s surface
when guns and walls and jails
turn back tides from our borders
like pharaoh’s Nile
at flood tide in blood
you and I
we’ll take our waters to the sky
make rain flow from our hearts
Filling mikvahs
baptismal fonts
coursing the veins
of Turtle Island in
a Roll, Jordan, Roll
Our beating gourd dripping a light
more liquid than we know.



Jeremy Nathan Marks

Jeremy Nathan Marks is the author of Flint River (Alien Buddha, 2023). He works in the adult literacy field and laments that it doesn’t snow in December in the lower Great Lakes anymore. Jeremy recommends the Center for Biological Diversity.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Sunday, November 29, 2020 - 12:03