The Sunday Poem: Lauren Zuniga... two poems, The Drowning & A Benediction for Hustlers and Gardeners

Have a vision for America?  Have a plan for you own life?  Does Grover Norquist intrude upon your quiet thoughts about what tomorrow might hold?  If you do nothing else this morning, read on.  Thanks to Zach Kluckman for the heads-up on Lauren Zuniga's coming to town and reading this Tuesday night at the Source for Creating Sacredness.  

Lauren Zuniga is a three time national slam finalist and passionate activist. MoveOn. Org called her work, “the most riveting message.” Daily Kos called her “a voice that can change the game.” Born and raised in Oklahoma, she served as the Activist-In-Residence for the University of Oklahoma and was voted Best Local Author by the Oklahoma Gazette.  She is the author of two poetry collections, The Nickel Tour (Penmanship Books, 2009) and The Smell of Good Mud (Write Bloody Publishing, 2012).  She lives with her two kids in an artist collective named Clementine and likes to make art with old magazines and glue.

The Drowning

{written for the Association of Public Treasurers Conference}

“I don’t want to abolish government; I simply want to reduce it a size
where I can drag it in the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”
                                                                    -Grover Norquist
When Government arrives at your door, sliced thin
as a blank check to the military, do you invite it in to your tea party?
Antique doilies lining the tables. Delicate china trimmed in morality.
Gravy boats full of war. Napkins monogrammed with neon freedom.
Do you make it sign a pledge to all this overwhelming liberty?
When Government is as small as a wedding ring. Small as a uterus.
When the schools are owned by Halliburton and the roads are built
out of billboards. When our social security number is just our bank
account number. When we are no longer responsible for anyone
 but ourselves. The bottom line. The profit margin.
When Government is as small as a spinning roulette marble.
When you have rigged the wheel and blamed it on the kitchen help.
When there is an iron fortress protecting you from intruders.
Shiny guns dangling in the entrance like chandeliers.
Will you finally feel free? Will you take Government by its matted hair,
drag it into your marble bathroom and plunge its inflated head under
the water? Watch it flap and tremble like a striped flag. Ring its neck
like a soft tea bag at the bottom of the ocean. Until it expects nothing
from you.

A Benediction for Hustlers and Gardeners

When you were 18, you thought you’d be famous before you were 21.
You won all the seed spitting contests.
Carried matchsticks and strobelights in your briefcase.
Everywhere you went you were like “OhMyGod, Check Out My New Idea!.”
We were all pretty sure, you were going to be the hottest thing since
Dr. Dre or pomegranite juice.
We’d see you float up to the spot in your platinum canoe and scribble
autographs on the curling bark of willing girls.

You’re 27 now, still selling ideas out of your basement.
You’re 31 now, still punching clocks in the thick noon of the day
You’re 42 now, still hoping for lava to pour out of traffic lights.

You’re too old for all this, you say, after three graveyard shifts
at the Lightbulb Farm, followed by 8am at the Grown Up Factory
You used all your vacation time, scattering megaphones along the highway,
and sleeping on crusty motel beds in Iowa.
You wear your business plan on a chain around your neck and call it grown folk’s bling.
Some days it feels like you are too tall for these carnival rides. All their sick flash and cat calls.
It would be so much easier, if you could just wear Hawaiian shirts to work on Friday and
get giddy about good lumbar support and ergonomic arm rests.
You could trade in your chrome rimmed tractor for a steady pension and call it a day.
But deep down you know
This is the only thing you are here to do.
and THIS is your year. Something is about to happen for you.

You are right! But this quitting five minutes before
the miracle business is a load of mule feed.
The miracle is already happening.
The miracle is that you wake up every morning
with art in your eardrums,
you compose gorgeous at the gas pump,
drop mulch in the checkout lane.
You blink with more passion than some people make love with.
This IS your year. The spring is so ripe with your takeover that the moon had to get
closer to the earth than it ever has, just to get a whiff of you.
You are a wild wind mill, in a field of oil rigs.
You are the only thing that will keep us moving.
So you better stay up on your grind. Let that flour billow up and dust our cheeks.
Let the ghosts of couches and TVs haunt the music out of you.
Let your throat be a hollow gourd.
Let the seeds you’ve been spitting all these years,
take root and cover the earth with your purpose.
Let your fists rip out any weed that intrudes on your soil.
Let your shoulders not give out.
Let the Naysayers not tear you down.

Let the birds migrate toward you.
Let the exact right people find you,
at the exact right time.
Let your bass kick us in our sleep,
Wake us in our stomach.
Give us slow food movement
with quick wit service.
Let us remember
that when one of us creates.
another is created
Let us remember
when one of us quits planting,
none of us can be bloombox.

Poetry submissions are welcome.  Email

Views: 529

Comment by Margaret Randall on March 31, 2013 at 8:07am

What a great privilege to have this poet in Albuquerque, and to be able to wake up to these poems on Easter morning! I can't remember identifying more with a poet's voice. So many poets have great politics but stumble when they try to reflect those politics in poetry. Others write beautiful poems that often seem vacuous to me because they don't seem to have any content. These poems reach successfully to both edges and explode dead center, vibrating us to our bones. Wish I were in town to hear these read in the poet's voice this coming Tuesday night at The Source for Creating Sacredness... this should be a powerful reading.

Comment by Izquierdo on March 31, 2013 at 11:02am

Two great pieces, the first mimicking what I would like to write if I had the tools. My new favorite person in the world for the time being is Pope Francis and his recent bold moves, but based on this poem, I'm going to put you in the top five people on the planet for your service in writing this, Lauren Zuniga.. Thanks to you and thanks to Acequia Man for recognizing quality work in poetry week after week,.

Comment by Georgia Santa-Maria on April 2, 2013 at 11:11am

Love these both. As a person in their 60's I love the latter one, because I'm still working to do it every day--make something new happen. Thanks! The first is a great reflection on the monomaniacal obsession of Republican (in particular) politics to turn everything over to individual responsibility, and adopt "Am I my brother's keeper?" as a rational philosophy. It isn't. We are a society, and if we don't take care of all of us, we are all in jeopardy, no matter how many guns we collect individually. We are still, only as strong as our weakest link, and poverty, ignorance and greed hurt everybody. Thanks for provoking thought.


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