The American Dissident: Literature, Democracy & Dissidence

Excerpt of Poems from Leaves of Grass/Poems of Heresy by the Editor

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In Academe
I received your resume and will take you under consideration for a teaching job with Gotham Writers' Workshop, if and when a position arises that you are right for.  [Never did one arise!]
—Alex Steele, Dean of Faculty, Gotham Writers' Workshop


During the time           
of Bobby Sands
in Northern Ireland,
the jailers would write
next to a prisoner’s name. 

Perhaps in our day and in America,
the deans write “non-conforming”
next to a candidate’s name
on an application for a teaching position
they know damn well, they’ll never give him.



A Nation Was Born… But for What?
On the Fourth of July
blind patriots show up in numbers
to watch the military parades
and ambulating business advertisements,
and to buy hotdogs and little flags to wave.

On the Fourth of July
blind patriots frown at me,
concern for the little children, a few say,
one even raging that I was… Charles Manson.

On the Fourth of July
blind patriots scorn my vile message,
as I brave their hatred alone, holding a sign:




A Gatekeeper’s Huff of Indignity
How does the censor really believe
she is not a censor? 

You think I’m some sort
of gatekeeper, she’d said,
angrily, as if somehow not true,

then a year later
the bitch permanently trespassed me. 

How to understand such a person? 
Can self-delusion be so powerful? 

Perhaps so, considering the widespread
blind faith in God… and the Leader.



Never Been a Lady’s Man
Too negative, too critical, I am
without smooth-talking charisma,
without extreme self-confidence,
without superfluous etiquette, and
without the capacity to shed croc tears
and lie through my teeth.


Rude Truth
i find you bitter, knee-jerk hostile and angry. that was my first reaction ... when i read your diatribe against the poetry establishment, though i agreed with much of what you said. but not the way you said it [sic]
—Carol Novack, Editor, Mad Hatter

To write or speak “rude truth,”
as Emerson rightfully termed it,
one cannot adopt some polite, 
undefined, acceptable manner,
because uncomfortable truths
must, by their very nature,
be rude. 

And rude can only be expressed
in an unacceptable manner.

Thus, one must wonder about the
psychological disposition of those
professing to agree with
the substance of a rude truth,
while simultaneously disagreeing
with its very rudeness. 



Programmed Not to Question
The following program
has been approved
for all audiences.

But approved by whom? 

We never care to ask.
We simply open wide,
say, ahh, then swallow,
some little faceless
bourgeois rodent
tells us,
it’s okay,
he’s approved it
for the general populace.   


Sunset over Shit Lawn

The mob inside pushed me outside—
the Hispanics wheeling their carts
bellowing in Spanish as if in Mexico.
A lawn of wrappers and shit lay before me,
where I sit on a bench seat in front of
Walmart in Salem, New Hampshire,
soaking in the last sun rays of the day. 
Obese people waddle around the lot
with backwoods air and voices.
A large six-foot long snow and ice turd,
blackened with crap and wrappers,
lays to the right of me, winter’s end
surrounded by melt water, butts, straws,
plastic pieces, bubblegum hockers,
papers, and even a few pinecones.
When you’re my age, if you don’t
have a crew cut and wear a suit
they inevitably say, hey you look like
that guy in Back to the Future.  

The sun shoots at me horizontally,
very pleasant warmth and light,
straight over the roof of Wendy’s
on to this stretch of shit lawn. 
Cars, cars, I wonder if these people
even contemplate the universe.
Behind me is shit woods also strewn
with wrappers, plastic straws, boxes,
bags, empty bottles, and crushed cans. 
J arrives wheeling a basket full of stuff,
says she’s going to have the girls over,
so bought all kinds of nuts and shit. 



Simple Nation
For perhaps many people
in America,                       
it seems their worth
as human beings
can be easily calculated
by the number of times
they fuck per day or week.