Checks and Balances

My poem is a response to each line of Bertolt Brecht’s poem. A reinterpretation, remake, using a model and making it my own, originally written for Claudia Reder’s English class.

Checks and Balances

By Tyler Mobley 

In circles of squares 

often they forgets to look beyond,

to lines that bend for food or 

a vote. 

Those scraping by taste more hope 

than sugar in their lives,

not always wanting more.   

The day’s demands leave out 

questions of how we ended up 

like this. 

Table manners have us at each 

other’s throats, no chance 

away from home. 

Keep talking about 

America’s gilded age, 

and you’ll never get it.  

Milk has spoiled  

meat left for the beyond 

and fast food wants to be slow.

Moving in different directions

ushering a world to it’s grave,

we were friends, then facebook

friends, now I don’t know 

where to find you.   

The Apprentice speaks of 

A return to greatness,

it was on vacation 

in Russia I suppose. 

He who blesses a nation 

hears the stampede of buffalo, chased by arrowheads 

on horseback, and vibrating houseboats

blasting Ted Nugent  

coast to coast.   

Sundays begin the calendar week

but ends the misery of those who live it. 

Tracking our days around the sun 

Not one left open to

have some fun.  

Teachers hold signs for more pay,

factory workers buy the goods 

they use to produce.

It will take more than a 

promise, to heal this

American scar. 

Mr. Mesquite watches his face bob 

on signs spread over a crowd of angry lettuce.

We called your siphon on trickle down,

and went months without work,     

you speak of prosperous times nearing. 

all the while clearing trees

for mass graves. 

We’ve let our trust out on a line 

and can’t get it back again.

Believing in a TV show host, 

we lose track of the producers. 

now it’s the democrats calling for

a national roast, no longer 

Comedy Central.

We say elites of D.C. 

Does the 1% mean anything to you?

Special interest groups 

for those who get to have 

special interest, or is a lunch break enough 

to make another Hilary documentary. 

Please cut your food, not me 

in this line for work to be of service

at Gala’d events, filling those 

Who lobby against us, preserve a laid

back lifer in the highest tax bracket.

We got you cover in the back

Next to stoves, and heat lamps 

for the overnight, 

some don’t get to go home.   

There, written in a populist play,

give them what they want,

and all power shall be yours. 

Your name forever next to all others,

as if we needed more it.

Why not, give the people what they’ve

wanted like never before. 

Try with your torches, 

try with a crowd, 

bring up a fixer, and

down goes a wall. 

Crisis are happening, small ones 

all over, that deserve what they deserve 

though we deserve better, to be held accountable for 

our enemies, and our friends. 

To embrace the good, and not give in to the unraveling 

of the west, for all it has taken, 

it has sure given back, 

to a few, but to most when it mattered. 

So let us accept a way forward with respects to the past 

and not begin from ashes to rebuild what was.  

If an original thought could save a nation, 

what does it take to think for yourself? 

All influence has spoiled, 

been dragged into the fight. 

Your power is lied beyond your means

so kiss my feet in reparations, 

and I’ll think twice about another lick,

at the backs of those who built the Pyramids, as

the dollar holds it’s appropriated value,

we watch, unsettled, for what the future 


From a German War Primer

By Bertolt Brecht 

Amongst The Highly Placed 

It is considered low to talk about food.

The fact is: they 

Already eaten. 

The lowly must leave this earth 

Without having tasted

Any good meat. 

For wondering where they come from and 

Where they are going

The fine evenings find them

Too exhausted. 

They have not yet seen 

The mountains and the great sea

When their time is already up.

If the lowly do not 

Think about what’s low 

They will never rise.  

The bread of the hungry has 

All been eaten 

Meat has become unknown. Useless 

The pouring out of the people’s sweat. 

The laurel groves have been 

Lopped down. 

From the chimneys of the arms factories 

Rises smoke. 

The house-painter speaks of 

Great times to come 

The forest still grow.

The fields still bear

The cities still stand.

The people still breathe.

On the calendar the day is not 

Yet shown

Every month, every day 

Lies open still. One of those days 

Is going to be marked with a cross.

The workers cry out for bread

The merchants cry out for markets. 

The unemployed were hungry. The employed 

Are hungry now. 

The hands that lay folded are busy again. 

They making shells. 

Those who take the mart from the table 

Teach contentment. 

Those for whom the contribution is destined

Demand sacrifice. 

Those who eat their fill speak to the hungry

Of wonderful time to come. 

Those who lead the country into the abyss 

Call ruling too difficult

For ordinary men. 

When the leaders speak of peace 

The common folk know

That war is coming.

When the leaders curse war 

The mobilisation order is already written out. 

Those at the top: peace 

And war 

Are of different substance. 

But their peace and their war 

Are like wind and storm. 

War grows from their peace

Like son from his mother 

He bears

Her frightful features. 

Their war kills 

Whatever their peace 

Has left over. 

On the wall was chalked:

They want war. 

The man who wrote it

Has already fallen. 

Those at the top say:

This way to glory. 

Those down below say:

This way to the grave.  

The war which is coming 

Is not the first one. There were 

Others wars before it. 

When the last one came to an end

There were conquerors and conquered. 

Among the conquered the common people 

Starved. Among the conquerors 

The common people starved too.  

Those at the top say comadreship 

Reigns in the army.

The truth of this is seen 

In the cookhouse.

In their hearts should be 

The selfsame courage. But 

On their plates

Are two kinds of rations. 

When it comes to marching many do not 


That their enemy is marching at their head. 

The voice which gives them their orders. 

Is their enemy’s voice and 

The man who speaks of the enemy

Is the enemy himself.  

It is night 

The married couples

Lie in their beds. The young women 

Will bear orphans. 

General, you is a powerful vehicle 

It smashes down forest and crushes a hundred men. 

But it has one defect: 

It needs a driver. 

General, your bomber is powerful. 

It flies faster than a storm and carries more than an elephant. 

But it has one defect:

It needs a mechanic. 

General, man is very useful. 

He can fly and he can kill.

But he has one defect: 

He can think.  

T.R. John Wright, Ralph Manheim, and Erich Fried (pg.213)

Forche, Carolyn. Against Forgetting: 20th Century Poetry of Witness. New York: W.w. norton, 2009. Print.


Author: mobleysurfer

Change is the only constant.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: