I’m in a rogue state, honey
Just a rogue state itching to
Test my harridan ballistic range
National Missile Defense System
Got nothing on me
I can pierce thru the genome project
With a cyborg’s vitality
I’m in a rogue state, Mr. President
Don’t tell me what to do
Your rules aren’t my rules
Cause I’m the Lady of Misrule
It became exceptionally clear that we’d be starting off on the wrong foot with the axing of the Inaugural Poem during the President Select events of the Inaugural Day (Jane 20, 2001). Romantic poet, visionary Percy Bysche Shelley, has said that poets are the “unacknowledged legislators of the race”. Every culture in the world has had a place for its poets (its artists, philosophers) --often perceived to be the imaginative conscience or psyche of the people who can articulate the ‘rasa’ - the Sanskrit word for flavor or taste - of the times. Well these are bitter times, my friends. And the President Select might have thought he’d be hearing some bitter poetry so why risk embarrassment. It is also telling that poetry will not have a home in this Select Administration. It will be rallying from greater position of power and dignity, outside the corruption of corporate & media stranglehold. The War on Civil Rights, on Women’s Rights over their own bodies, on Voting Rights, rights of the Environment and all its countless and beautiful and amazing denizens are all part of the War On The Imagination – a War that threatens free thinking, free expression, the ability of people to empathize – to imagine themselves as “other”, as less well off, as suffering, as disenfranchised, that doesn’t remember its history & is cursed to keep repeating the same mistakes again & again - that doesn’t recognize the struggle or appreciate the many lives that it has cost to IMAGINE those freedoms that we hold as inalienable.
I attended the Anti-Bush Events of the Shadow Inauguration organized by the Reverend Al Sharpton and others in Washington DC’s Stanton Park in support, primarily, of the disenfranchisement of the African Americans and others in the recent election in Florida and elsewhere, and within US society as a whole. Before beginning the March on the Supreme Court Building we all (probably upwards of 2,000 people) took an oath to uphold the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The law was established in order to re-affirm the right of African Americans to vote, a right that many speakers felt had been hindered during the recent election. We were able to circle the Supreme Court building in spite of the taunts and banter from Bush supporters:
Go back to Russia!
Get a Job.
Earlier as we’d been struggling through a sea o f Bush supporters on their way to the viewing stands one crudity stood out “Get back to the back of the bus!”
I took this as a very particular goad, as a reminder that we now have to get back to the streets!
We were in an armed city.
Security was billed the tightest in history, with almost 10,000 members of law enforcement present nearly every ten feet. And yet it was heartening seeing how thousands of protesters braved the rain and cold – that there was very clear opposition to the fraudulent, anti-democratic “political covenant”, lining the parade route all the way.
I was with a small “cell” of poets. Kristin Prevallet, Alan Gilbert, Anselm Berrigan, Maggie Zurowski. Our group elegantly stenciled our signs, including one that read “Ecrasez l’infame!” – Voltaire’s vivid rallying cry to liberal conscience everywhere, as he took up issues of injustice. One version might be
“make war on the fanatics!”
Anselm came up with ‘Duh-Throne Bush’ “Impeach Cheney” (for the secret bombing of Cambodia) and so on.
I’d like to interject a few lines from Allen Ginsberg’s “Pentagon Exorcism” here:
“No taxation without representation” is the opening epigraph.
Who represents my body in the Pentagon? Who spends
My spirit’s billions for war manufacture? Who
Levies the majority to exult unwilling in Bomb
Roar? “Brainwash!” Mind-fear! Governor’s language!
“Military-Industrial-Complex!” President’s language!
& I’d like to close with my own poem, now, in the spirit of ongoing Engagement & creating of antidotes to the distressing situation at hand. Keep the faith! No justice - No peace.
that they be doused roiling water
that adamantine speech go against them every time
that glamorous women turn their heads from them
that children run
that if they perpetuate war & famine they rot in hell
that hell be ferociously hot
that they are no longer recognizable or loved
that they get no more votes
that they exude an aura of sickness & scent of doom
that their credit runs out
that they are disbarred from the marketplace
that they are banished from the kingdom of poetry &
that their seed dries up
that they loll about mindlessly in sad places
OM BANISH HO HUM!
OM BANISH AH HUM!
Gone Bone Gone out of Gentle Pathways!
(if they have one shred of recognition for their dark ways
some of this curse is reversible)
From a Public Forum (with Tom Hayden, Stew Albert, and others) Boulder Theatre – Copyright Ó 2001 by Anne Waldman. Lines from “Rogue State” Copyright Ó 2001 by Anne Waldman. “Spel Against Specious Ones” from Fast Speaking Woman, City Lights Books, San Francisco.