What comes after despair

Election night, 2016

We’re strolling in San Francisco
awaiting the election returns
not wanting to wait for the bus
gawking at modern forty-niners
silicon miners
so young so white so tall
flush with hi-tech bucks
and desperation.

To stay in the game, to be seen
as taller, better looking, young forever,
they spend: here’s a store
uniquely devoted to eyebrows
another only for lashes
and upstairs, a toenail boutique.
A shop next block just washes hair
and gives it a blow—but
doesn’t cut or dye.

The neighborhood cinemas
are now gymnasia, the screens
replaced with floor to ceiling mirrors,
the ushers with trainers
to sculpt those geeky caffeinated frames.

We spot what looks like a toy store
and stop in, but it’s
the ultimate selfie emporium
they’ll make a 3-D full color resin replica of you,
or your dog, or this moment’s mate
a doll to display on the coffee table
of your studio apartment
it’s three times the length of your dick
and costs about one week’s rent.

Elsewhere on the continent
the white but not-so-young
are choosing their representative.
They’re a fusion of wealthy wanting more,
and the angry poor who
could never hope to catch a cup
of the golden shower that trickles down
on the digiterati

They’re entranced with a funhouse mirror
version of themselves, taller, huger,
a man who gazes at his life size portrait in oils
purchased with someone else’s money,
who is his own ultimate selfie,
who gobbles cash and excretes cruelty.

A long ride home. We return to our room, to sleep,
until we can know the judgment of morning.
And then it comes. Black smoke like burning tires
pours from the radio. The empire rose; the empire
will be destroyed. Despair!
And then we hear the piano—a neighbor’s child,
her fingers slow and tentative, stringing the notes together
her name is Tikva…Nadezhda…Esperanza—
that is to say, Hope.
Now her touch is surer
as she practices
the Ode to Joy.

5 Responses to What comes after despair

  1. Dennis Siple September 29, 2020 at 1:28 pm #

    Brilliant, Martha!!! THANK YOU!

  2. Mary Ann September 29, 2020 at 2:07 pm #

    Thank you. I love this.

  3. Yehudit September 29, 2020 at 4:06 pm #

    So beautiful.

  4. Connie O Byrne September 29, 2020 at 4:10 pm #

    I remember that night. you’ve captured my feelings of the next day…and now the fires are burning

  5. Anne Chatles September 30, 2020 at 4:22 pm #

    Yes, lovely.

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