Of the People

They call themselves Republicans or Democrats
and formerly, styled themselves Whigs or Tories;
but it doesn’t take imagination to figure that
they bend like willows in the wind, and change their stories

to suit the temper of times, and fan or tamp the fire
depending on their own design, as suits their own desire.
They claim to represent the people and to do their will;

I am their people, yet they only know my name
from voter registration, or my letters ‘gainst some bill
that a staffer reads and replies to, a thousand just the same.

Constituents, a power base, a funding source to woo –
the mayor, judge or congressman sees there in me and you.
Do they share our neighborhoods, our streets and public schools,

Or with their lawyer’s salaries, shop the same thrift shops?
With diplomat’s immunity, must they play by our rules,
or are the ones that make the law beyond where the buck stops?

There is a line that even diehard populists don’t cross,
that separates the gleaned wheat from the useless dross.
I get their vain pronouncements by the post at intervals,

assuring me that they are on my side, though they can’t know it;
none have walked in my garden, nor will they take my calls —
if they are of my kind, they have a strange way to show it.

And worse, their people call and have the nerve to flub my name,
then pass it off as ignorance; I listen, just the same
Whether they claim to be the Greens, or Independent men,

for I know that behind the voice their stripe is all the same
dependent on my interest and the dollars I can spend
and quick to point the finger back to me and place the blame.

What’s worse, they rarely bother to ask what I’d have them do —
so I am left misrepresented, just like most of you.

20 AUG 2003

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