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A Place Called Hope

A Place Called Hope
by Kimberly Wilder
Written: Democratic Primary Season, Election 2004
Re-dedicated to Dennis Kucinich: December 2006

This poem is a mission:
Good people against Hope.

There is no hope for American politics.
No Democrat will rise up to save us.
Democrat. Republican. Democrat. Republican.
You lose.
Either way.

If you are a good person, you must abandon (false) hope.
You must abandon The Man From Hope,
and everyone behind and beside him.
If you are a good person, you will remember how Bill was different,
working class, like us.
If you are a good person who was old enough to watch TV in 1992,
you will remember watching The Man From Hope.
You will remember seeing on your tiny silver screen
how one Bill Clinton, from a small town, with a hard life
who listened to railroads and loved his mother
was going to ride a dusty railroad car into the White House
and shower us with blessings,
heal our country,
be one with all the good people,
help all the little people.
He was little himself,
remember how you knew that, watching The Man From Hope
And try to really remember, take yourself back in time,
forget what you know now and really feel it,
how absolutely sure you were he was the one.
feel your confidence,
your joy, that there was in fact this man from hope
Yes, if we can chose this man, everything will be alright.
And, he won. We won. We got him in.
Followed our hope, followed the bright shining path of little people.
We never thought we could really win,
but it happened.

Now, is your heart still open? Can you hold up that feeling next to what followed:
Don’t ask, don’t tell, left service people
confused, shamed, no better than before.
Trade deals and the shuffle of monstrous corporations.
(Do you remember that Bill was in charge
during the Battle of Seattle?
And, he was not wearing a butterfly costume.)
Empty judgeships, which we felt then as a cowardly sigh.
Now, the judgeships he gave up on, waiting empty for Right Wing
plots and nominations.

If you are good, then climb a cell tower and shout
“Fool me once, shame on you, Fool me twice, shame on me.”

If you are a good person,
try to remember Lani Guinier and Jocelyn Elders.
Think about being held up as a leader, used as a token,
and cast aside when you started to tarnish someone’s centrist image.

Even if you are a good person, you might abandon me
when I tell you what I really want to say.
You might leave if I tell you what I really want you to do.
So, let me give you choices, first.
I will be as generous as a manipulative facilitator.
>I will be as open-minded as a Right-Wing Republican,
and give you choices.
(But, I know what you should really do.)

You are a good person. And, a thoughtful person, too.
So, you will have the courage to forge your own path
and write something in.
You know, on the ballot, with the little pencil.
You right in “peace” or “Mickey Mouse”
or the name of your second grade teacher who
you knew somehow would be the one to save the world.

The act itself is revolution.
Voting is revolution.
Writing is revolution.
Self-expression is the key to the universe.

Whatever you do, I am saying, to not give yourself back to Hope.
Hope is what got us here.
You know, in your heart of hearts, you know this didn’t start with W.

So, what I am saying,
I am getting closer to what I really want to say.
Don’t vote for a Democrat.
You gave them your vote before, you gave them all your hope before,
and they betrayed you.

Don’t even listen to Democrats.
They will fool you again.
They have the part of Hollywood
with money and contracts and military consultants for their war films.
They have shiny literature.
They make really good movies.
You can’t say you won’t fall for it,
you already did that once.
(I already did that once.)

Don’t listen to Democrats.
Kucinich is not a knight in shining armor.
Dean is dead in the water.
If Kucinich is a knight in shining armor,
he will never get past the primary.
If Dean wins, he will morph into one of them.
Even Hope can’t stop them.

To be part of their team is to buy into the Clintons one more time.
The Clintons will produce movies for them.
The Clintons will work themselves into their hearts.
The Clintons are the ones with the spotlight,
and book deals, and purse strings.
(And they are the ones fallen from hope, and don’t forget it.)
Hillary will hold out apples,
and the new Democrats will tempt you at country fairs.

The best of them, Kucinich, and Dean,
and the Kerry who is not a war criminal,
seem young, they seem hopeful, they seem shiny.
Though hopeful and shiny,
and making proclamations about campaign finance,
they are full of dirty money and broken promises.
They are on the team of the Democrats.
“Keep the money in the family.” It can not stay pure.
Even the most hopeful ones,
they are full of corporate money–don’t let them deny it.
It is coming out their ears.
Do you think they will turn it down?

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

I will not advertise someone else’s false hope.
I will not even name them in telemarketing polls.
Let Hillary say Kucinich. Let Bill Clinton jump up and down for Dean.

I will not vote for someone else’s false hope.
I will vote as a good person
A good person made aware
by time and loss and lost opportunities
I will vote as a poet
I will vote as Walt Whitman, knowing that it is not
a poet’s job to pick the winning team,
or measure out the strategy.
Knowing that a poet is a code word for good people
who love children and animals and would help the poor.
Knowing it is a poet’s job to annoy tyrants
and to find little pencils
at polling places so you can write in hopeful things
in the little rectangle.
Peace. Green. Peace. Green. Peace. Green. Revolution.

You have found me out.

But, I said you had choices.
Oh, I want you to vote Green. How I want you to vote Green.
But, I will take anything, a write-in, a scribble,
a vote for a minor-socialist-something-or-other party.

You are a good person,
so look at all the donkeys, elephants, and starshapes on the ballot
and vote for something else.
Do not see the flags, and stars, and eagles
without seeing the gray donkeys and dangerous elephants lurking behind them.
Those donkeys and elephants want war.
They kill people.

You are a good person, and you can see that I have vision,
so let me preach to you–

Green Party … the winning is for later … Green Party … building for the future… Green … it is a form of expression … Green … good people and poets and good poets like these things. It’s an adjective. It’s a movement. Some of the kids use it as
slang for mari-joo-ana.

The Green Party is the only other.
The Green Party is more than hope.
It is better than hope,
growing and alive,
an apple left on the tree.

2 Responses

  1. […] more reflections on Kucinich and other pro-war Democrats and their strategies, please see the poem “A Place Called Hope.” I might have to add another stanza […]

  2. I voted green. I thought maybe I was wrong. A vote for McCain might rush us to the bottom quicker and get it over with. On the bright side, a tornado in Mena, Arkansas is blowing a blizzard of Gov Clinton’s nose candy all over the citizens of the state.

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