George McKay

                                                 Independence Day Poem

                                                     for Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and others

                                              Have I, too,
                                               withdrawn, into the
                                           hidden garden 
                                                         hortus obscurus? 
                                                 I see the print, Cyril's,
                                         see lush vegetation, as if in close-up, see the
                                                  obscured baroque order of the place
                                                               viewed as if thru night vision goggles 
                                                                   The fountain like an oversized cup 
                                                                                                  placed on a saucer – 

                                                 our trees are memories of tomorrow
                                                        clad by searchlights that beam into the night
                                                  they turn white and lilac, who knows 
                                                                                Green, still, I mean:
                                                                                                 Green, living green

                                                     the baroque garden of the bishop – 
                                                           reflection of the absolute quest for control
                                                  a dead order, a dead order I say
                                                                         it survives, in our time
                                                                     like the skeletons of fossiles survive
                                                               Our tribute to culture & 
                                                                                           (they claim), RECREATION
                                                                               IF YOU CAN SPARE FIVE MINUTES
                                                                                              AND A QUICK GLANCE

                                                               But the contemporary mirror
                                                                              of such mirrors of order 
                                                                         invented & then, fetishized by men
                                                                   grows in Bluffdale, Utah – 
                                                                            What a bluff!
                                                                       I know it's
                                                                            just a cheap joke & I can't
                                                                                             laugh anymore, the
                                                                                                 throat too dry,
                                                                                          trouble, now, swallowing
                                                                                                    swallowing the splinters
                                                                                                               of piecemeal “truth”
                                                                                OR WHAT WE TAKE FOR IT, MY FRIEND

                                                     A HIDDEN GARDEN: ONCE A PARADISE
                                                      old story, that in modern times
                                                                           rephrased a dream
                                                                    No –: dreams
                                                             For many are the ways to read 
                                                              the difference
                                                                                     between what is
                                                                                               and what might be

                                                                                                  if it can be, at all
                                                                                                   BUT WHO CAN TELL?

                                                                  A hidden place, 
                                                                     of peace and rest
                                                                 regressive dream 
                                                                                  you say
                                                                 who are not tired
                                                                        of this world, its business
                                                                         and crooked games
                                                                     and power plays and jargon that
                                                                        cooks up geostrategic pawns
                                                                             and a rehash of Hitler's smart
                                                                           attempt to make himself, 
                                                                               & his club-footed Aryan aide
                                                                                              the fittest that survive
                                                                                         in the Fuhrer's bunker

                                                                Hidden garden – 
                                             always, always, the longing to escape, to withdraw?
                                                   in quest of peace, a calm heart, PERHAPS
                                                                     No superfluous gadgets
                                                                         no torrent of irrelevant news
                                                                                   that hide what they pretent to reveal
                                                                       (by their sheer mass, 
                                                                                  the chaotic rumbling jumble
                                                                                      that reverberates in the brain)

                                                        fed up with the dutiful exercise of loaned power
                                                                   the educated, 
                                                                                     erudite poets perhaps,
                                                               withdrew to the mountains
                                                                        a cabin in the Tatra, shortly after the war
                                                                               to be away from Stalin's shadow
                                                                            it was like a stamp on the forehead of bureaucrats
                                                                                     watchdogs who knew they were
                                                                                                               pampered and watched:
                                                                                   the canaille 
                                                                                             of the self-censuring press

                                                                                             and 1200 years or so ago
                                                                                         another stalwart of the emperor
                                                                                                   sought peace of mind
                                                                                                         in the shadow of Tian Shan
                                                                                                   a real poet, he was, and always
                                                                                                                 a reluctant servant

                                                                  do we search the deus absconditus
                                                                                  in hidden places
                                                                          like Moses on Mount Sinai
                                                                        overlooking the desert, then
                                                                                fascinated by the fire
                                                                                          the burning bush

                                                                         The sane perhaps, the psychologist said
                                                                                 are indeed not shielded as such
                                                                                against visions, all sorts of them.
                                                                                                   CALL THEM HALLU
                                                                                            the citations, lacking of course
                                                                                 citations like those the poetess cited
                                                                                       as she listened to voices from below
                                                                                              next to the sulphuorous spring
                                                                                              steam rose from the depth of the
                                                                                                         sun-burnt earth
                                                                                                   The omphalos. Just another center
                                                                                                         of a hidden garden –
                                                                                                 How many hours, for the wanderer
                                                                                                    from Delphi to Arcadia
                                                                                            passing the warehouses of the merchants
                                                                                                 at Korinthos, the cyclopic gate
                                                                                                    of the fortress, at Mykene?

                                                        In the post-war years that followed the fall of
                                                                 white suprematist hate that had accumulated
                                                    in the crowds enraptured by the dark-haired, little Pfc
                                                                               with the shrill voice 
                                                                          and the chip on his shoulder 
                                                                 (because he had never seen real action in World War I)
                                             they all believed in progress, the text books say.
                                              The text books, in was called the East, and the textbooks in the
                                                              West which of course was America (the U.S.A., mind you)
                                                                                     and its colonies
                                                     And the little old step mother of America, Britain
                                                            sent 30,000 little orphans to Her
                                                                           Yes, Sir, Her Majesty's colonies
                                                                    to beef up the presence of Aryan blood
                                                                            and West Germany sent orphans
                                                                                        to the Boers for sexual exploitation
                                                                                                   and as unpaid child laborers
                                                                          and to increase the stock of “good white blood”
                                                                                               in the Free State 
                                                                                           that had no freedom ready for sale
                                                                                                         to Africans (IT HAD TO BE
                                                                                                            FOUGHT FOR) 
                                                                              But the fathers of many of the exported kids
                                                                                       had been men in black uniforms
                                                                                      killed in action or shot on the spot 
                                                                                                  (for good reason)
                                                                                            when captured by Allied soldiers

                                                           We like to forget all of that
                                                    Our memories a hidden garden deep in our
                                                         breathing bodies / Freud said
                                                             why not subterranean river-system ?
                                                                     currents that stream and vanish and resurface
                                                                 strangely under the skin
                                                                         The skin of today
                                                                      this very minute this second 
                                                                                                              that hides so much

                                                               thine, o lord
                                                             is the greatness, 
                                                           and the power and the glory
                                                               the biblical poet sang
                                                          was it 3,000 years ago
                                                                was it?
                                                     THE NAZARENE ECHOED IT LATER
                                                             he too turning to a
                                                                    hidden god
                                                               a god that does not intervene
                                                          but still he called out to him, 
                                                                              cornered as he was,
                                                                                         by the empire and its quislings,
                                                                  in that secluded 
                                                                                         garden on Mount Olive
                                                                he called, in hope and despair
                                                                     the unknown, the hidden god
                                                                         and ascribed to him all power all glory
                                                                 ascribed to him 
                                                              the only real, 
                                                                      only relevant empire 
                                                                   that exists – 

                                                              How ridiculous, then, you are
                                                              with your soldiers in leather boots
                                                                     with your war machinery
                                                                  your tax system, and your law books
                                                                     How weak, in the end
                                                                               as we confront you
                                                                  We / who are still in the garden
                                                               and we, who step out, into the public arena
                                                            loyal only, in our searching, questioning way
                                                                           to conscience – 
                                                                  the empire in us that lets us do
                                                                       what we sense is right

                                                                                                                  July 4th, 2013


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