July 7, 2016

Two poems by Jeff Burt: "Election" and "Independence Day"

Jeff Burt works in mental health and has been published in Amarillo Bay, The Nervous Breakdown, Atticus Review and forthcoming in Per Contra and Clare Literary Journal. He has work published previously in Indiana Voice Journal.

Painting Courtesy of Eric Hill http://www.erichill418.com/


The last acrobat of America
came vaulting on the screen
juggling promises to constituents
he couldn’t keep and caterwauling innuendos

to hide his ability to stand still.
We, the people, were no longer fascinated
by a man who could high wire
when he had the only net of safety,

were no longer exhilarated
by handstands and contortions
when we saw the guide wires
attached to the circus benefactors.

What we wanted was an elephant
standing on a ball with tenderness
in a crushing foot, what we wanted
was a clown who brought out handkerchiefs

tied together with no sleight of hand,
what we wanted was a sword swallower
who came out alive, a smiling woman
who could stand on a pretty horse.

Independence Day

seeking the karma of the bicameral-minded America,
the televised-suffocating narcissism
providently and perpetually played before me,

lakeshore visions of hand-grasped, twice-tapping hugs
of community, the beachfront taking it back from marauders
and gangbangers and making the six-o’clock spin

about belonging, and not buying, and buying into,
like fellowship was a purchase, holding hands
a transaction without which we’d fall apart,

back out of the circle, slum up and pigeon-hole
like an orphan peering out of drawn drapes
afraid the mother and father missing and maimed

might actually find me, love me, the bars sown
into windows not so that others might not break in
but I might not break out, that dualism, that America,

with health doctors telling me there’s a third way,
a way that costs money, that causes wealth,
and by that they mean me increasing theirs,

I’ll feel better, all the creams and colored pills
and shampoo-lotion-rare-aired-jungle-blossom-

that will wrest me from this impressive struggle
with flipping the switch between I and other

when I know that some days just dropping shoes
and opening a window and not listening to self-talk
or noise, focused on darkness, that an unimaginable

grace overwhelms, I become not whole
and not divided up, just the plopping ass-hanging
comfortable, brain-dead dead weight of light,

that America, just watching all of the fireworks
of exploitation and manipulation go off
and smiling, keeping my lawn-chaired distance.

~Jeff Burt

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