Three Poems for Our Times

These poems were performed for the Wicked Poetry Slam in Berlin, a poetry slam showcasing political poetry. Six poets, three rounds, one theme: problems/solutions.

November 17th is the beginning of the Velvet Revolution— marking the brutal police crack-down on students which led to the fall of the communist regime in 1989.

Rama Rama Hare Hare

There are very wealthy men
in America
(and probably other places too
but for the purposes of this poem 
we are going to stick to only one 
region of 
insanity

the hippocampus of nuts
the amygdala of… 
well…
well… (ha ha))

Wealthy men who are terrified of the coming hordes
(Not whores
although they are probably terrified of them too)
Hordes whores ho’ s who’s

Graves
They’ve dug down past their own graves
Bunkers
Better bunkers
Better bunkers than before

Entire cities 15 stories down
For 70 families — don’t rhyme that

Like the cities near Kulshahir in Turkey
in the sunken cities the early Coptic Christians dug
deep in the earth to hide from
Genghis Khan (I mean Tamerlane or Timur)

Like the Tower of Babel in a story I just read
built up and also down to reach heaven it said

Survival Condo
Former missile silo
15 stories down

What are they gonna do down there?
After the apocalypse
Watch Netflix?

Not to get all Biblical but 
the first rule of Armeggedon is 
You don’t talk about Armegeddon

which is stupid because if they would just talk about it
Some kind soul
might come along and ‘splain

And by ‘splain I mean mansplain transplain womensplain dykesplain gaysplain blacksplain brownsplain whitesplain upsidedownsplain theysplain yousplain Isplain we all splain for the sake of

Clarity 
hare krishna

that

the true meaning of Apocalypse is uncovering
“a vision of heavenly secrets that can make sense of earthly realities

And they’re gonna miss it
Living at the bottom of their pre-dug graves
They’re going to miss it
and never change

because it’s already begun


Big Disgrace

There’s not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock
said Donald Trump, quoting Bibi
Netanhyahu
quoting Donald Trump

There’s not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock
said Bibi quoting Donald Trump 
paying it forward to
The Nigerian Army who
Posted Donald Trump quoting Bibi quoting Donald Trump

to Twitter as though this justified the
Nigerian Army mowing down more than thirty
protesters in Senegal
just this Monday.
We will rock you.

There’s not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock
said Trump quoting Bibi quoting Orban Erdogan Assad Putin
Duterte Kagame MBS Bolsonaro

Back to the Nigerian Army
Mowing down more than thirty
Quoting the Bible quoting Donald Trump
(and the Talmud, and the Qu’ran)

Saying

We released that video to say if President Trump can say that rocks are as good as a rifle, who is Amnesty International to say? What did David use to kill Goliath? So a stone is a weapon.

We will rock you.

There’s not much difference when — 
Wait — did they just call themselves Goliath?

Are they all giants? 
They might be giants.
So if a stone is a weapon and they are Goliaths 
then

the protesters are David and the Palistinians are David and the Syrians are David and the Caravan is David and the people are David and 
only 
an army of Davids can take them down.

(The purpose of that story is not a cautionary tale 
to watch out for little guys with big 
rocks 
Or to show whose god is greater
It’s to show how those in power are not fit to lead)

There’s not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock, 
said Goliath.
And for those about to rock, we salute you!


(and the converted)

Of the 800 no 2500 no 5000 no 7000 no 15000 US military troops being sent to the Mexican border I personally know
One
My cousin’s son
A member of the National Guard

In 2016 his mother was worried that if Hillary Clinton won
He’d be sent to war
“That whore” would sacrifice my cousin’s son
A member of the National Guard

When he was 15, he suddenly shot into the sky
My cousin’s son
2 meters tall with big dreamy eyes
And big dreamy dreams
of typical teens and all the things he could be:
Rock star
Poetry
Love

When he was 19 my cousin’s son stood at the threshold of his dreams
And had to choose what he would become:
National Guard? Or rockstar, poetry, love?

But there’s no money in art
No future
No fast cars
No guns, no manliness

(He never learned about William S Burroughs or Niki de St Phalle
Vaclev Havel or the Fall of the Wall
The Velvet Revolution from the Velvet Underground
The Sweet Jane, the Sunday Morning,
the New Age, the European Son
Of the power of Rockstars
of Poetry
of Love)

Out of the eight major religions trying to knock each other out on Earth, I personally know
Three
That include the story of David and Goliath
And include the part where 
before he killed the giant
David was installed in the court of King Saul as a singing poet
To calm the nervous king
A rockstar
of poetry
and love

Of the 195 world leaders currently in office, I personally know only
Two
who are poets
President Mike Higgins of Ireland
and Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir of Iceland
Granddaughter of poets and professors of humanities
Both presiding over countries
Whose economies 
are stable
Whose borders are open
Whose people are happy and sing
Like rockstars
like poetry
like love

And out of the two poet presidents currently in the world
I personally know only
One
Who wrote
a poem about refugees
To quote
(to paraphrase)

To those on the road it is reported that
The Prophets are weeping,
For the words that have been stolen,
From texts that once offered,
To reveal in ancient times,
A shared space,
Of care
Of love

Of the 82 revolutions in the 20th century that have overthrown fascist rule
I personally know
19
that were nonviolent

And of those 19 nonviolent revolutions I personally know
One
That was guided by a velvet glove, by
Rockstars
Poetry
Love

Of the thousands of years of civilization, of dictators and fascism and fear 
I personally know 
that
If it feels like history is repeating
It’s because history is repeating 
but
If history can repeat for the dictators, the fascism, the fear
It can repeat on our side too
Us rockstars
Us poets
Us love.

© Susie Kahlich 2018

[If these poems resonate with you, please give them a clap and help other people find them too.]