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
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
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
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
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
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
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
From the chimneys of the arms factories
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
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
Those for whom the contribution is destined
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
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
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.