A few days after last year’s Capitol insurrection I wrote this.
From the Sidelines of a Coup
Time was long ago
that I imagined myself sometimes
on the barricades of some great General Strike
turning the world upside down
gleefully building that new society
on the ashes of the old.
It was easy then to be a romantic revolutionary
to imagine portrayal on some heroic poster
splashed in red and black.
Yet in fact I only marched, chanted
and dodged the occasional baton
or teargas cloud,
I came and went unarmed.
After Fred Hampton was perforated on his bed
and students bled at Kent Stat
my peeps on the Chicago Seed
put a mop-head freak raising
an AK-47 over his head
in psychedelic color on the front page.
But no one I knew went out to buy one
or to drill in their Dad’s old GI gear
in the woods.
Time went on and I never abandoned dreams
of a fairer world
but put aside any fantasy
that it could be won by force of arms.
Decades later that still holds true
although I have made many
compromises and accommodations.
Some might say I have gone soft, weak kneed,
or just plain sold out.
Maybe yes, maybe no.
Now I watch other revolutionaries,
White, not Red,
storm the Capitol and make war
on Democracy itself.
Like those old Catalonian anarchists
I find myself to my astonishment
called to defend a Republic.
I want to do my part.
But age, a treacherous heart,
a pandemic, winter,
and an accident of geography
that has me far from the likely battle grounds
have left me on the sidelines
of maybe the greatest struggle
of my lifetime.
All I seem to be able to do
is spill some electronic ink
that will be seen, at most,
by a few hundred people.
And it hardly seems enough.