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October 18, 2013

Poetry Friday--Our Times

These are truly strange times. Some even say we are in the end times. Last weekend, I heard a story on NPR in which A. J. Jacobs, a editor at Esquire magazine, related stories of physical confrontations by members of Congress. Listen to the story here:

Jacobs told of Henry Clay's being referred to as "like a rotten mackerel in the moonlight." That phrase jumped out at me. Then, mere minutes later, I read about a congresswoman's claim that we are in the end times. [Read the article here.] That idea, and the mackerel quote, tangled themselves in my head. A quick search online revealed that the quote is even more revealing when read in its more complete form, "like a rotten mackerel in the moonlight, he both shines and stinks." Ouch!

Photo by Axel Rouvin.

After many fits and starts, I ended up with this:
In the Moonlight

...the leaf is on the fig tree and we are to understand the signs of the times, which is your ministry, we are to understand where we are in God’s end times history.

--Michele Bachmann

It is claimed a leaf
sprouts on the fig,

in the darkness
in the moonlight

fruit concealed by
the slick new shoot
remains unseen.

There it may grow
there it may wither

we do not know
until the stench of
rot is indisputable.

So please, trust your
primal animal sense;

periodically stick
your nose in the air
to sniff.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Do any of you write poems in response to political goings-on? I sometimes question why I do, when, in all likelihood, a year from now, this poem will make no sense! Or perhaps it will make perfect sense? I wonder if, when Kipling wrote "Dane-Geld: A.D. 980-1016" 100 years ago, he ever would have imagined its relevancy in 2013?

I'm sure there are plenty of sensible and relevant poems being rounded-up today at Merely Day By Day--be sure to stop by!


  1. So many interesting links here, D. And your fabulous poem, of course . . . Janet

  2. Good one, Diane. Politics, like every other subject, is fair game for poetry, a seemingly natural opportunity for satire. Love your final stanza especially. :)

    1. Yes, everything is fodder. If you can't laugh, surely, you'll go mad.

  3. It would be nice to stick our head up to sniff and find the smell of fruit instead of the stench that seems to be there a lot lately.


  4. I like your response to the mess in Washington. Writing poetry about it is a lot saner than most of what one could do!

    1. Sure is, people can get really caught up in the commenting section of many news and social media outlets.

  5. Thanks for all the links. Poetry always has the perfect response, I think. :)

    1. Oh Myra, I shudder to think what your part of the world is thinking about the political circus going on here!

  6. That Bachmann interview was so strange - it was as though she was speaking in tongues. As many of her ilk seem to do these days....the stench of rot indeed!

  7. Yikes. Bachmann is off the rails! Love your poem and your passion, Diane. You've read Calvin Trillin's political ditties, right? And do you know James Fenton's work? Not funny, just political in the most beautiful way, though of a different era. and I'm thinking of Yusef Komunyakaa, too. Lots of ways to be political in poetry!

  8. Politics are a stinking rotten mess these days. I prefer Millay's figs to our political fig-ure-heads.

    1. Funny, you should mention Millay. We can only hope that the "lovely light" from the mess in Congress burns out soon.

  9. Gads--figs everywhere this weekend! I always enjoy a bit of politopoetry, myself, and as Rudyard proves, like fashion politopoetry always comes around relevant again. That quote of Henry Clay's is inspirational indeed!

  10. Truthfully, I like a good fig. Fig Newtons were always a favorite growing up. ;-)

  11. Reminder to self: do not get on Diane's s**t list.