Perhaps it is the sea of fake news we find ourselves drowning in, or perhaps the spew of lies that click so easily off Trump’s digits, whatever the reason, I am drawn more and more to reading the “confessional poets” of yesteryear. Those original ones, who cared little for the moniker but much for “focusing on extreme moments of individual experience, the psyche, and personal trauma, including previously and occasionally still taboo matters” (Confessional poetry). Plath, Lowell, Sexton. They broke repression and oppression. Wove the atrocities of the Nazis into autobiographical poetry. Created verse from what we denied, with the stuff left under the rug. As their ashtrays overflowed and they pounded typewriter keys, their truth loosened onto the page and heralded a revolution of honesty.
We need those crazy fragile ones back on the center shelf. Enough with fiction for a while. Enough with thinking it isn’t the obscene power of the AR-15 that is slaughtering us. Enough with thinking that Trump isn’t motivated solely to further fatten his paunch. Enough with thinking these moral right-wingers have morals, or at least the same ones that you and I share. You know, like caring that babies are murdered at school or church or anywhere a deranged angry white man with an assault weapon cuts them down. If you still read Facebook “news” with conviction or scroll down your Twitter feed believing those 140 or now 280 characters, then wake up, you are being made the fool.
Hate breeds hate, right? Remember that one from kindergarten? We have been lead into a labyrinth of falsehoods from the naked emperor to those scurry to do his bidding. Time to taste the bitter pill. Face the hard facts. We have violated our selves. Our women. Our poor. Our neighbors. Our small towns and big cities. Our planet.
Nine Cent Girl celebrates yet another anniversary this week. For eight years I’ve faced this screen with hope in mind. With a steady belief that we will engage in the tough conversations and find bridges wide enough to meet on, but with the cunning from Russian hackers, at the beck and call of those in our current administration, an entire GOP sending paper prayers that burn before they reach the heavens instead of crafting common sense background checks and gun control, a populous careening about the planet in SUV’s instead of taking control of their ecological footprint, and most of us working longer hours for less pay, us common folk are helplessly and hopelessly beaten down, ignored, played.
I must say, I am feeling especially beaten down, as I huddle my students into the corner to practice the protocol for an intruder in the building attempting to murder us, while at the same time “Texas-based Slide Fire told customers in an email Tuesday night that bump stocks are again for sale” (Quinn). Of course I am buoyed by Tuesday’s election results, but is it enough to stop the madness that is Trump and his wall, which is already being billed to you and I? It’s really far more than his wall, it’s the hate, the cavern dividing political parties, stirred and fueled with gusto from a man most of the world considers a charlatan. As firmly as I feel, his supporters match the sentiment. As clear as I believe I am when discussing health care or the proposed tax bill or that wall or climate change or common sense gun control or whatever issue I believe to have a view about, Trump supporters are equally sure I’m dead wrong. We dig our heels in further. Where is the common ground? Where is the core from which we can locate truth?
There are no brilliant answers to end this post, no neat idiom to propel us into a unified stance, not the love for our children, the sanctity of our churches, or our need for a healthy sustainable future. They are not enough anymore, for we are at odds with each other, in collusion with ourselves, each of us maintaining a false front that needs to be torn down in order to solve what lies ahead. We couldn’t move backwards even if we all wished it. We must bushwhack our way out of this despair and fear and ignorance and greed. Find the higher ground. Together. Or not.