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Did You See This?
Poems to Provoke the Politically Correct
by Herbert Knapp
Political correctness has stifled independent thought, hobbled the economy, turned sexual relationship into a minefield of legal liabilities, and neutered stand-up comedy. In response, poetry has clutched its pearls and hidden in its academic parlor. Poets tell themselves poetry is about feelings and the ineffable—eternal things—not transitory political disputes. It was not always so. In a more robust age (when poetry mattered) children didn’t run to the teacher but shouted back, “I’m rubber, you’re glue whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!”

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The poems in Did You See This? mock politicians, journalists, the sexual police, history professors, utopians, postmodernist artists, and, of course, the politically correct.
Did You See This?

Poems to Provoke the Politically Correct

by Herbert Knapp

I have seen “a lot” become “alot”;
“all right,” “alright”; and “crap,” respectable.
And I have seen “diversity”
come to mean “conformity,”
and now, alas, “adult” means “pornographic.”

The other day I told a man
that in my lifetime songs had gone
from celebrating love to celebrating rape.
And he replied his research showed
“a monster market for that stuff,”
adding as he walked away
before I had a chance to speak,
“It’s gonna pay.”
Answers only matter to the weak.

Everybody says that life is meaningless.
The planet’s doomed, and soon we’ll all be dead.
But as my broker’s always said,
“Adversity means opportunities.”
He wants me to invest in nursing homes
and assisted living communities.
Periodically our politicians
spend enormous sums
to make our dreams come true.
They never do.
All that happens is their golfing chums
pick a few
financial plums.

And when the bums are booted out,
the chums find work for them to do
in companies too big to fail
because they know the bums know all about
keeping thumbs upon the scale.
Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda.—Walter Duranty

Everyone agrees
(seventy-one years later)
Duranty’s dispatches
were “gravely defective.”
But a committee of his fellow journalists
(seventy-one years later)
convened and could not find
“clear, convincing evidence”
of “deliberate deception.”

The committee extended its sympathy
(seventy-one years later)
to everyone affected by
the Holodomor, the genocide
Duranty denied and denied,
but decided his lies
were an insufficient offense
to deny him his prize
for journalistic excellence.
Quand un peuple a de bonnes moeurs,
les lois deviennent simples.

Congress passed a law the other day
that is longer than Remembrance of Things Past
and more opaque than Finnegan’s Wake.
Our Representatives admit they haven’t read it,
which means they didn’t write it, either.
We are governed by butlers and upstairs maids.

Restaurants are required to serve us salads.
And we are forbidden to smoke indoors.
But we grow more lethargic every day.
Movie stars and journalists insist
that what’s required is plainly more repression,
And so our laws, like kudzu, grow and grow,
and we live in the shadows
of prosecutorial discretion.
I watch them walking by me hand in hand,
each of them is talking on a phone
while they walk by me hand in hand.

I hear her tell him that she understands,
and see him speak into his phone.
And all the while they’re holding hands!

Like two Medusas who are both afraid
that face to face they’ll turn themselves to stone,
they live together but exist alone.

Now they’re sitting side by side
dancing their thumbs and swiping their little screens,
exploring cyberspace on their machines.

Making choices is their drug.
It makes them feel like they are self reliant
and have no need to pray or dream or hug.

The past, they have no doubt,
is just a sad and boring time without
the choices modern life is all about.
For them there is no greater satisfaction
than that of being constantly
“distracted from distraction by distraction.”

When puzzled, they ask Google. (Google knows
everything worth knowing.) When they’re sad,
they send each other kitty videos.