Maybe it’s a tin ear for poetry.

“Do unto others” didn’t balance like a see-saw when you heard it?
You were playing with fire while others sang about whose land this is?

Sunday mornings the others gaped at visions of camels and needles, but no image came to you? Sad.

In history class you forgot Eleanor’s 4 freedoms, but spurred on the 4 horsemen, knowing they would never ride up your gated street. You heard “pursuit of happiness,” but missed “created equal”? Heard Reagan’s siren voice and quoted “Greed is good” on dates? How’d that work for you?

Oh God. Not really? You shrugged along with a pedantic Ayn Rand, but couldn’t see the stars sparkling over the heads of two guys floating down a river? Others might be wherever there’s a fight so hungry people can eat, but you headed for the cafeteria, right?

Even that old man who’s heart was breaking for those poor wretches in the storm? You felt no pelting rain, no pity, no poetry?

Oh yeah, you heard the workers throwing off their chains all right. The clank scared you to death, didn’t it? But you never hummed the Marseillaise, how does it go, “Allons enfants de la da dah dhadedah?”

Your favorite was those Valkyries riding with a whiff of napalm? Of course it was.

Art museums. Ever stare in shock and awe at that big painting of a small town in Spain? At Whole Foods, Millet’s stoop labor never comes between you and the arugula?

You stay involved, do you? You cheer choleric campaigns in October, but even by January miss . . . what? You think out there somewhere there’s a green light on the end of a dock beckoning you and the rest of America? That’s because you never felt the force of some half-naked Indian’s truth and love. You never woke up to dreams of justice rolling down like a blue river from purple mountains.

I guess that’s it, a deaf ear for poetry.

Tim Butterworth, an Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow, is a former teacher, union negotiator and New Hampshire state representative. His life revolves around family, politics, arts, literature and writing, gardening, timber harvest and making maple syrup. This year he is immersed in the political-cultural mash-up in DC – www.ips-dc.org

Image from Gotham Gazette

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