Repost: An open letter to the Puritans (a poem)

Upon learning that my state has an anti-abortion bill in committee that not only bans abortion from the moment of conception but also declares the state exempt from federal laws and federal court rulings, it’s time to repost this. (I have replicated my subsequent edits, so this version matches the one included in my newest collection of poems.) [Update 5/17/19: I received a reply from my state senator; the bill never received a hearing in committee, and is dead, since the 2019 legislative session has been adjourned.]

Parts are falling off
like fingers from a movie leper

First the hands
now the feet
and what’s left is heating up
and generally feeling uncomfortable

But there’s work to be done
so there’s nothing left
but to soldier on

Nothing’s going to happen
if we sit around doing nothing

Thank you, Puritans
for destroying any hope of leisure

Every day, we have to work work work work
until we’ve spent so much time
worrying about work and money

that we’ve got no energy left for fucking

Even if we did, nobody would want to fuck us
because we’re so ugly on the outside
and so screwed up on the inside—
and we have to say ‘screwed up’
because y’all were too uptight to say ‘fuck’
where anybody could hear you

No wonder we invented the assembly line
what better way to turn our pathetic human existence
into cogs in the machinery
inherently inert and easily replaceable

Yes, you Puritans past and present
have a lot to answer for—and don’t think it’s your Lord
who’s going to be conducting the interrogation

We are the sons and daughters
of your sons and daughters

and their sons and daughters and so on
and all we inbred descendants demand satisfaction—
which we won’t ever get
because you’ve trained us over generations

to be incapable of enjoying ourselves

We’re very good at guilt and shame, however
There you have taught us well indeed!

And, of course, you’ve managed
to make an industry of that as well—

books and workshops and pills
and years and years of therapy

all for the low, low price of two bucks a minute

And we have to be ashamed about that, too

At this point, having a few digits fall off
would feel like getting off easy

Now they say trauma resides in the DNA
so we could be free of all you have made of us
and still accrue damage over the years
ending up as screwed up as we are now anyway

Granted, that one is not your fault—
b
ut trauma multiplies exponentially
or logarithmically or something
so you’re by no means off the hook

If time travel ever does become a reality
you, my Puritan forebears
are never going to leave Europe

and the powers that were
will do what they should have done

and lock up your worst tendencies
so they will not infect anyone else

Maybe then we can have the lives
we should have been given

and I will be out
enjoying the sun on a spring afternoon

instead of sitting here, hunched over the typewriter
putting down on paper
whatever spews forth from my prefrontal cortex

and wanting things to be better—
which they’re not, because I grew up in a culture
that wants to enjoy itself
but can’t because of the accumulated burden
it has inherited

from a bunch of dead Europeans
who couldn’t have things their way

so they took all their farm implements
and high-tailed it to the Americas
where they made sure
that the folks who were already there

couldn’t have anything they wanted either
and would spend the next seven generations
fighting for basic respect and dignity
against a land of entitled Puritan descendants
without any sense of heritage
beyond the complexion
of a piece of bleached, colorless fabric

Except, strangely enough, for their current leader
who looks like a Creamsicle collided with a panda
and fused together like Brundlefly—
and has no problem whatsoever with fucking

However, we’re not willing to be fucked, O Puritans
and not because you have trained us to be ashamed
but because you’ve done enough damage
and we refused to be damaged

Prepare thyselves, thou art going down…

(originally posted 19 May 2018—reposted 16 May 2019)


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One thought on “Repost: An open letter to the Puritans (a poem)

  1. And now “my state” (Missouri), ever willing to be part of this pack (giving new meaning to #MeToo) has added its voice. These are sad days.

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