Poetry

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2001

by Lionel E. Deimel

  

Two thousand one was not a good year,

Except, of course, to forget;

It started in peace but ended in war,

In surplus but ended in debt.

 

With incoming President chosen at last,

We began with both hope and despair;

Would the fighting continue, or parties unite

In bipartisan work for what’s fair?

 

Though lacking a landslide or mandate for change,

The President pressed for his plan;

He won his big tax cut for all his rich friends,

But the Senate, he lost by one man.

 

The Dems were quite feckless at raising the cry

Against the conservative core;

We waited in vain for inspiring words

From Daschle, Bill Clinton, or Gore.

 

The economy slowed, though the Fed cut its rates,

And the ranks of the unemployed grew;

But, despite the bad news, we focused our thoughts

On what Condit the Congressman knew.

 

September eleventh will forever be known

As the day the World Trade towers fell;

The heavenly bliss of American dreams

Was invaded by terrorist hell.

 

We changed our concerns in an instant that day—

Every cop, every fireman a hero;

Healing and safety priorities now;

The ultimate cost of Ground Zero.

 

The country still reeled from the terrorist blows

When we faced anthrax deaths from our mail;

Yet, with all our resources and money and men,

We could find not one villain to jail.

 

The war was essential, but it seemed a great shame

To bomb such a woebegone place;

And, except for tapes broadcast on Arab TV,

Bin Laden did not show his face.

 

And, so, we anticipate two thousand two

With prayers for peace and success;

We face our worst fears with a stiff upper lip,

For, in fact, we can do nothing less.

 

 

Reflecting on the past year in December 2001 was a less happy enterprise than in most recent years. On the positive side, we were shown again that Americans have a great capacity for compassion. We also learned that George W. Bush and Rudolph Giuliani have more capacity for leadership than we had given them credit for. Most of the rest of the news from the first year of the 21st Century was depressing, however. I began this poem on December 31, 2001, and finished it about a week later.

Re-reading “2001” two years later, I noticed that it is another poem (like “Diversity,”) with an easily misread line. In fact, I thought I would need to revise the poem because I could not seem to find a proper scan for “And, except for tapes broadcast on Arab TV.” As I began to consider ways of altering the line, however, I realized that it contains the requisite four feet if stress is placed on the second syllable of “except,” on the first syllable of “broadcast,” on the first syllable of “Arab,” and on “V.” This seemed more obvious when I wrote the line.

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