Newwpoem 4 April 1998

Serious Problems

Shit! We all think we know something about poverty
It's a problem as dear top us as pollution
It's a hell of a lot easier to cope with than refugee movements
Or something insoluble like ethnic strife
Let's talk about something wholesome, like shortages of water and arable land
You'll ruin my dinner with your talk of weapons proliferation

Because what can we do to halt weapons proliferation?
There are already groups working on poverty
And you can join the peace corps, experience shortages of water and arable land
Or stop driving and start recycling to slow pollution
And maybe then you've done enough, and don't have to contemplate ethnic strife
Or figure out the repercussions of refugee movements

What are we talking about when we discuss refugee movements?
People moving out of areas with intense weapons proliferation?
Where they are threatened by ethnic strife? Or what? These people live in the worst poverty
In areas of the world whose natural beauty is threatened by pollution
Which itself can lead to shortages of water or arable land

It's safe to say that America has little in the way of shortages of water or arable land
And likewise invisible to us are its refugee movements
On the other hand, we do observe the pollution
And hear, on the news, shocking evidence of weapons proliferation
We are always dimly, if only dimly, conscious of poverty
And we will cross a dark street to avoid ethnic strife

What a world I can imagine! No ethnic strife
Everyone collaborating to prevent shortages of water and arablke land
And to ensure that such problems don't lead to poverty
Perhaps through well-planned refugee movements
And nothing being more inconceivable than weapons proliferation
And nobody ever doing anything that causes pollution!

But alas for now we have pollution
And like it or not there is ferocious ethnic strife
And it will literally sicken you: the amount of weapons proliferation
And the amount spent on weapons instead of preventing shortages of water and arable land
Notice the selfishness that grips you when you hear of refugee movements
You will think it is all you can do to keep yourself out of poverty

What will you do about the problems threatening our world?
As enumerated last January by C.I.A. director George Tenet: poverty, pollution. refugee movements, ethnic strife, shortages of water and arable land,
and weapons proliferation

Newspoetry at Spineless Books