Thanks, Kate, for the response to my poem fragment as well as the firsthand report from America's heart of Republican darkness. I wrote an essay once called "The Calvinist and his Hobbes" which deconstructed Deputy Dubya Bush and Sheriff Dick Cheney's (fortunately) aborted attempt to dismantle Social Security. I made my comments in terms of the historic roots of American Puritanism and its inherited (from Martin Luther and John Calvin) top-down class warfare by the rich against the working poor as no longer deserving objects of charity but of open contempt as "idle sinners." I'll repost a copy of the essay here if you'd like.
In any event, as you know, I've devoted many years to what Calvin Trillin calls "Deadline Poetry" (casting current events into virtual verse punditry), especially linguistic-abuse issues that my epic "Boobie" poem Fernando Po, U.S.A. explores with each topic in its own episodic chapter (or, "Canto," in Italian, I believe). Your comments got me to reflecting a little more on this "Darkness at Noon" theme, and thus ...
(no title yet)
I do not mean to mock
Misspellings of an idiom germane,
But only to defrock
The cheesy awe and shock
That in the U.S.A beguiles the brain.
Some say it matters not
That "two" and "to" and "too" don't equal four
Because we all have got,
We say, the basic plot,
So we speak noise and paddle with an ¡§or.¡¨
We scratch some marks in place
On surfaces that might outlast our speech
And cluster them in place
Divided by a space
Which add up to an incoherent screech.
We try to see our thought
And hold it still awhile in written prose;
Except when badly wrought
We think not what we ought,
But only what we¡¦d rather just suppose.
So then, why should we care
When yokels tow the line far out to see?
Misspellings should not scare
Like tires too low on air
Because our mental rims roll round and free.
We think just what we will
As C. S. Peirce once tried in vain to show.
Once habit we instill
Belief requires we kill;
And why we do it, few inquire to know.
No feathers and no tar
Await our malefactor leaders fat.
Since ¡§it¡¨ depends by far
On ¡§is¡¨ and ¡§am¡¨ and ¡§are¡¨:
And what whomever means by ¡§this¡¨ and ¡§that.¡¨
This post-linguistic land
Once knew a time when folk could read and write.
Now, trapped in TV land
The vapid and the bland
Must see the lying lips to taste the trite.
Like Boobies ¡¥round their fire
The body-language gestures matter more
Than words as thought-attire
So fear soon morphs to ire
Then ¡§witches¡¨ burn for daring to explore.
We¡¦ve come back to the cave
Although, perhaps, we scarcely ever left.
Too few will chance to brave
Their ¡§friends¡¨ who howl and rave At any who decry the language theft.
(perhaps more later. perhaps not.) ...