The Flautist Wears a Shaman’s Headdress

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“As Democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.  On some great and glorious day, the plain folk of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.”  H.L. Mencken, The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 16, 1920


gone mad, gone mad
but for the flautist in shaman’s headdress and
the first violinist wearing a necklace of skulls,
praise the intuitive, the holy, the gentle chanting
of the faithful …

defy the bassoonist 
blowing brazen notes over Syria
and the cellists hidden in caves; succour the sad sweet
violins of Aleppo, Palestine, Kashmire crying salt tears
for their lost lands, pulses weakening, and there’s
that drummer who 
down-beats from North Korea

China harps on the fumes of its discontents,
the Ukraine is loud with crashing cymbals
and the snap pizzicato of Russian preying,
while the angel of Germany hosts a symphony,
or tries to, & here in America parties are discordant

[the price of order is dictatorship
the price of democracy is chaos]

politicians out of tune, sections out-of-sync,
oligarchs charge themselves with theatre management

poor acoustics preclude hearing the chorus …
. . . and all the world’s a stage,
the men and women are not mere players

The configurations of cruelty have changed since I wrote this poem in 2013 but the cruelty is still with us and often seems worse than ever. And, it certainly turns out that Mencken (quoted above) was  prescient.

© 2013, poem and illustration, Jamie Dedes

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