Though cruel to name a child Anxiety,
the gods, in giving birth to feelings, knew
some would go wrong, some would be born askew,
a few, defying terminology,
would stay anonymous. Anxiety
at least would have a name that people knew.
So cruelty was a kindness, in this view,
which many take. But not all gods agree.
Some fallen angels claim they rose; that down
is up, or may be left or right, at worst;
or that there’s no such thing as motion, they
are weightless in their cosmic eiderdown.
They squabble, just like us. And when they’ve cursed
their fill, long-strangled Angst, off leash, can play.
We waded in a tide of words, then dove
headfirst and swam out far as we’d been taught
was safe, then turned to our protected cove
and, seeing sand where ancient armies fought,
grasped where we were and how we had been schooled,
and turned again, and strove amid blue waves
and glaucous swells, hearts set not to be ruled
by lessons hatched in mansions that held slaves.
Their towers and their widow’s walks we saw
from far out, taking one look back before
we plunged toward open ocean, lungs now raw
from heavy work that bore us far from shore.
We’re creatures, now, of currents, where we drift
amid lost masts and wheels that dip and lift.
Dan Campion is the author of Peter De Vries and Surrealism and co-editor of Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song. Dan’s poetry has appeared previously in Grand Little Things and in Able Muse, Poetry, Rolling Stone, Think, and many other magazines. A selection of his poems titled The Mirror Test will be published by MadHat Press in February 2022.
In my experience, never had better imagination conjured than “…..hearts set not to be ruled by lessons hatched in mansions that held slaves.” Appropriate for the day following Bastille Day.