24 October 2000

The Year That Nader Ran

One person stopped speaking to me
And many others started
Despite this,
The sense that I had, in my life,
Crawled to the edge of something good
Was tangible

Was that the year?
That is, the year that Nader ran?

NASDAQ descended like a zipper
And a spurting of tickertape jism
Issued in swirls of shredded speculation
Startups expired in a sour flatulence
Shares deflating like rotten Jack O'Lanterns
Microsoft Word got a little bit worse

But something was waking up
And it felt like the public
The year Ralph Nader ran

It felt like participation
A disruption of stagnance
A current, a breeze,
A sealed window cracked open
A billion voters who had been holding their breath
Since 1980
Suddenly exhaled a cool perfume of fresh ideas
The year that Nader ran for president

People spoke to each other on the street
And "corporate" changed definition slowly
Like an autumn leaf
Gathering color and detail
Brand names spoke volumes
Every corporate logo became
A transparent window
Framing a portrait of suffering
The year that Nader ran

Protesters halted the meetings
Of the WTO
And the IMF
The year Nader ran

Between the newspapers' lines
About "violent" protesters "clashing with police"
The truth leaked out
In flashes of vocabulary
USA Today readers had never
Encountered before: "Democracy"
"Sweatshop" "Self-Determination"

The year that Nader ran for president

Bill Clinton was careful not to bomb or fuck anyone
Bush Jr. did a line and promised to drill for oil in the Alaska Forest
The wax in Al Gore's face melted beneath the halogens
Tim Johnson snorted a line off a red white and blue dildo
Dick Winkel yanked his wanker
Rudy Guiliani had an unsuccessful operation
To implant a human heart in his chest
Police everywhere raped the poor with nightsticks
Mayor Schweighart smoked in the nonsmoking city building

But nobody completed a single sentence
Except Ralph
The year he ran for president

And even Bush supporters wondered:
Who was this man who was so dangerous
That he would not be permitted to sit
In the audience during the debates?
Was the mighty Bush family not
powerful enough to defend itself
Against this polite, professorial sexagenarian?

They wondered whether he was
Osama Bin Laden
The year Ralph ran
We were pulling for the man
In Urbana
Where a thousand anonymous carers
Grew bumperstickers and signs
A sudden flourish of green in autumn

Nads for Prez

Because Ralph was the sort
Of guy who, when he gave a speech,
You could listen to

We thought he should be nationally televised
Like Bush, because no amount of financial backing
Can buy a man grammar

By which I mean the courage
To complete a thought
To speak as though there is someone listening

And what Nader had to say, no less than
To share the world with its people

Windows users suddenly bought G4s
Michael Moore had a show on Bravo
And every songwriter released new MP3's
Like computer viruses
That was the year
The year Nads ran
After the breakdown of society

We're so glad he won

Newspoetry at Spineless Books