Poems from a Partisan

12 Jan

Poems from a Partisan

In the long interval since I last wrote, I have been rather busy at my poetry. I am discovering that inspiration comes from many sources. Sitting in my wheelchair, I spend a considerable amount of time reading newspapers online and watching television news. You might think that this would dampen my poetic urge, but on the contrary, it moves me to write.

This blog installment consists of three poems that grow out of recent events. I know there are risks in sending these poems around–not every reader finds poetry appealing and not every reader will agree with my perspective on these current happenings. If you disagree, perhaps you will at least agree with the editor of our house monthly newspaper, who says: “These poems make me think, and that’s why I’m publishing them.”

As a foretaste of what might come in the future: I’ve just discovered a group of “Disability Poets,” whose work I find very interesting. By the way, I have also just published an article of my intellectual autobiography. If you would like a copy, let me know.

The poems that follow are labelled “partisan,” and they are sent out with my best wishes for the new year that has just gotten underway.
An Image Problem

[In mid-September, 2014, several professional
football players were charged with assault
on women and children.]

He hit her–hard
a greek god in
perfect shape
no problem dragging her
unconscious body
from the elevator

What’s the issue here
an image problem say
the pundits says the
league say the

Dollars, where do
they fit in

He’s an all-star they say
They’re a loving couple
they say

He pulls in the dollars
they say

Adonis beats the
little boys who adore him
welts and scars that
last forever

We’ve got an image problem here
to be sure

Whupped him like
my daddy did to me
made me a better person
another says

Dollars must be safe
a bottom line belief

Shut up! That’s the way.

Running is his game
and he’s good at it
record books prove it
An image problem
no right and wrong

Forget the women
sent by the blows
into oblivion
made up now in
black and blue

Dismiss the boys
they’re on their way
to becoming better men
they bear not scars
so much as badges
of spiritual forming

Run, run, run

At all costs, keep
the silver coming in
safe always
dollars always safel

this is America’s game

(c) Phil Hefner 9/16/2014
Poetic Themes

must be chosen with care these days
beauty be redefined
angst of heart enlarged
order and reason conceived and
shaped anew

the times when living rhymes with dying
oblige poets to walk a different road’

Chorus One: “workers be damned, it’s profits
that count!” “We never meant to pay a Iiving wage,
we just offer a chance to work!”

money profits that’s what counts
not a thing of beauty
no grace there–
for single mom
high school dropout
anyone down on their luck

never meant as living wage
job may not rhyme with life but
we wish you well

Chorus Two: “new law mandating retirement
pension for every worker? Just another assault on
American business!” A screed well known today.

you didn’t get it
making profit is what it’s all about–
transform that into iambs
with sustaining cadence
go ahead if you can

Chorus Three: “I can’t breathe!” “Hands up! don’t shoot”
insults every man and woman with a badge
disrespects those who serve and protect.

insult how terrible
for darren and eric and sean and amidou
tamir twelve years old with toy gun
a man of ninety-two name unknown
mindless in a nursing home
it was their last sigh
now at rest beneath the earth
it offends you when we

Chorus Four: “When all the facts are in you
will surely understand why no shooter need
stand trial need defend their deed.”

gun culture embedded
to our core

have a gun shoot
your supreme
and protection

american as god and mother
(used to be)

Chorus Five: Players protest, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

“We draw a line. Who buys the stuff you advertise? It’s us,

cops, the good people. If you don’t stop, we’ll step in.”

what serves these times best
ode sonnet rhymed or free
epic lament or dirge

these are ordered forms
the times shatter form

are poems real in this time
is this a poem

if not poems what

is ours
the age
after poetry

[Choruses taken from newspaper accounts.]
(c) Phil Hefner 12/6/2014


The men in black had to ask
an innocent good-natured man
for directions–how to get to
number ten

Journalists stayed on
rooftops, wary of
what was ugly on
their arms–Kalashnikovs

Zeroed in on second
floor pops and moans
all around weekly
charlie reduced to bodies

Who was murdered
on one seven fifteen
not charlie live bodies
and cartoons made
their wednesday appearance

Bodies by the thousands
sprang up in republic square
death was disinvited
there on one eight
je suis charlie showed up

Freedom to speak, said one
civilization said another
these have not been

Meanwhile in new york
and atlanta editors
said charlies

gratuitous offense
does not conform
to our
editorial standards

(c) Phil Hefner 1/9/2015

One Response to “Poems from a Partisan”

  1. Tom Ford January 12, 2015 at 11:33 pm #

    Profound! Send to N. Y. Times, Chicago Tribune, Time, Christian Century, The Lutheran

    You have nailed it, Phil! Beautifully done!

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