Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mr. Dickens Almost Goes to Washington




Mr. Dickens Almost Goes to Washington


I dreamt that Marley’s ghost 
had come to Washington
in his grave clothes, pulling his 
account books,
money boxes and chains
across the cold Atlantic,

stumbling up the Capitol steps,
a staring corpse messenger groaning,
clanking, sent to cry out loud enough
to wake the dead conscience  
pickling in its
golden green brine.

Scrooge was playing troglodyte chess
with rocks and clubs in the marbled halls.
He never stopped speaking as the chains
wrapped across his aureate, vibrating throat. 
When the Ghosts of Cataclysm Present
and Future showed him Ignorance,

and Want; his own face in the mirror 
of poverty, his own feet running 
in the stampeding chaos just outside his 
triple latched door,
his hundred million silent children,
he knew his lines by heart:

"Are there no prisons?
Are there no workhouses?"

I woke up alone,
looking back at the dark
chambers where Scrooge,
not Marley, not the Ghosts
nor Dickens himself,
sat writing the ending.


July 2011















Image: Ignorance and Want, woodcut illustration from  
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens,
John Leech [Public domain], via wikimedia commons

47 comments:

  1. nice bit of political commentary hedge...ugh...i about threw up watching the press conferences last night....maybe he should have pulled the chains a bit tighter...

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  2. What's scarier than Scrooge's nightmare? This poem, certainly. You did a fantastic job of tranposing Dickens's 19th century critique of the monied class into guiltless gilt halls of Washington (nice traipse across the cold Atlantic), showing how far we've fallen. Our poisoned political scene is far too cold for anything close to penance. Nothing can get to our Rep. Scrooge, former hedge fund manager, duly elected safety net cutter extraordinaire -- he's got Tea Party Jehovah on his side, and can't be lured into a sex scandal 'cause he lost his pecker forcing his way into our country's piggy bank. Thanks for cooking our Scrooge's goose in this Hedgewitchean feast. -- Bendan

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  3. Oh please. Next you'll say something quaint and absurd, like "mankind is my business."

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  4. So true, great bit of sattire, is a sad turn of events. Rather bicker than do something useful.

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  5. great political take - love this: loud enough
    to wake the dead conscience
    pickling in its
    golden green brine.
    so true!

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  6. Love the political take and after last night I think many were having nightmares. You always blow me away with your writing.

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  7. I so relate to the pain and humiliation suffered by Dickens through poverty. There were times where we lived without running water and electricity. I had to endure the servitude I was ensnared into to support my family (having to leave high school at 16) and then myself with two full time minimum wage jobs. I finally made it to college but the two years intervening nearly cost me everything. Sorry, this is becoming more about me than your marvelous poem but you’ve hit to the core with this one. Satire should have real bite and here you succeed. The ghastly ignorance and want personified as children are a wonderful touch. This is excellent.

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  8. Well done. Savagely accurate take on Washington's current mindset.

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  9. Powerful social/political commentary...beautifully expressed.

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. Laughing...your message is loud and clear.
    Fantastic imagery!

    Love the quote under the Poetry picture. ;-)

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  12. You win best line of the day "Scrooge was playing troglodyte chess"

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  13. Reminds me of the cartoons of the great depression.....all the people in poverty camped out in the parks of DC with their cardboard box houses....the politicians seem to talk and talk and say nothing....bkm

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  14. I love how you weaved this well known story with your political landscape. I am not following it closely but your lines are definitely sharp.

    Love these images:

    a staring corpse messenger groaning,
    clanking, sent to cry out loud enough
    to wake the dead conscience
    pickling in its
    golden green brine.

    As Brendan said~ stunning piece~

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  15. If anything, what's going on is even more fantastic than this. America's not a young country anymore.

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  16. Wonderfully written! Wish Washington would take notice. Amazing how so much is said and nothing is said at all with the talks. (Hugs)Indigo

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  17. ..whoa..many careful references here... liked the cleverness of your thought-process... thanks for the poem.(:

    ~Kelvin S. M.

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  18. Fascinating! I like your use of language and the way the poem changes pace according to what is happening.

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  19. your powerful political piece really sings (or screams) 4th stanza is brilliant.

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  20. i agree with everyone else ~ a brilliant, powerful, creative piece that makes more sense than anything actually going on in Washington anymore.

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  21. Sharp, sharp cutting political poetry. A fine and topical piece that tells it like it is.

    I think we are going into a depression...past a recession as they play knucklebones in these halloween halls.

    A pox on both houses.

    Lady Nyo

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  22. @Lady Nyo: Amen to that. It's always halloween up there these days.

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  23. Joy, how very accurate this is. Did you notice his tie last night, good lord! But then could you not :)

    Pamela

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  24. @pamela: He looked like a sad old drunk used car salesman. Reminded me of Nixon.

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  25. Thanks all. Your time and input is much appreciated, always. Glad you could come by and read.

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  26. What is there to NOT dislike in Washington's chambers. Our 'trusted servants' are not. Your words sparked loads of thought here today,
    Hedgewitch! Well done. Thank you.

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  27. I loved this, hedgewitch. I've missed reading your beautiful writing. The images this evoked - just amazing. Especially Scrooge playing troglodyte chess...I'll probably dream about that tonight! :)

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  28. Fuck em all. They will rot in the hell they created. Eventually even the Italians strung Mussolini upside down so he would be able to get some blood to his brain.

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  29. Well chosen allegory, biting satire, worthy of Dickens himself.

    David

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  30. @Talon Good to see you back. You were missed.

    @twm: I don't know about brains with these guys--I expect it would just fill their empty skulls and start dripping out their ears.

    @Brendan Thanks for your comments--I was laughing when I hit the piggy bank remark. Now that's what I call dysfunctional. ;-)

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  31. I like the way you took the motifs of a well-known classic and made it so applicable to the present day economic crisis and First World poverty.

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  32. My visits here never disappoint. This shines with a sense of history. Its satirical intent clear and its references precise and intelligent. Loved it!

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  33. Very clever, Hedgewitch--what a talent you have.

    I hate politics!

    Gayle

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  34. History reflecting modern day. Wish my name could be beside many of these comments. Watching these grown men, responsible for one of the most powerful country's in the world, bicker and abuse like school yard children, was beyond disappointing. There are many in my country who like to fool themselves by thinking we're safe...yet our banks and lenders have responded to your mortgage crises by creating our own. And that's just one example. I could go on and on, but the last thing I want to do is overshadow this potent, brilliant piece of writing by standing too high on my own soapbox.

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  35. Thanks kerry.

    @Natasha: Thanks girl--your soapbox is always welcome here. And your point is well taken--because we're such a big dysfunctional mess, we affect everyone else who interacts with us when things here go bad.This little joyride in particular will mess up the global economy as well as ours, as the dollar drops through the basement and our credit becomes a joke. Over a manufactured political hissy fit. It's sick.

    Seems like there's more than one soapbox around here. ;-)

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  36. I like the way you weave the old with the current. Very timely piece. Especially like "his hundred million silent children".

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  37. Excellent... clever wordplay and great use of Dickensian Characters to illustrate your Narrative. I never feel disappointed here...

    Particularly liked this passage -

    Scrooge was playing troglodyte chess
    with rocks and clubs in the marbled halls.
    He never stopped speaking as the chains
    wrapped across his aureate, vibrating throat.

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  38. When you're late to the party, for sure everyone else has grabbed your comments.

    I've been considering this Washington mess as my next topic, but won't get it as right as this. Looking for metaphors and all I see are glass walls into infinity and I don't even understand what trillions of trillions of dollars mean...but I know if I owed it, my credit rating would be nil. Good grief. Only good news, helluva lot of great poems posted today!

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  39. The books are all cooked and the conscious is indeed dead! Fabulous political write; love where you took this one using Dickens, but I couldn't help recall Mr. Smith, the movie. This whole freakin' fiasco is maddening, and we, joe q public will be left holding the empty bag ~

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  40. Hello! My first visit, will visit you again. Seriously, I thoroughly enjoyed your posts. Congratulations for your work. If you wish to follow back that would be great I'm at http://nelsonsouzza.blogspot.com
    Thanks for sharing!

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  41. There are no more compliments to voice about your poem. They have all been said perfectly. I loved, loved your use of Dicken's Christmas Carol as a structure - fabulous. If you don't write a political column you should, so work like this might have a wider audience.

    Unbelievable that what is going on has absolutely nothing to do with "debt ceilings". Our self interest has reached the zenith of insanity and is staring into the abyss.

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  42. Wonderful, hedgewitch, a clever piece.

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  43. What an inspired piece of writing, Hedge! You resurrected dear old Scrooge to great and terrible effect, and the perfect representative of this state of affairs we find ourselves in. If only it were a fiction! But I'm afraid we really are pickled.

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  44. This is the second piece I've read today that has commented on this subject, both very different but equally powerful in the delivery of their premise. The Dickens' characters are perfectly placed in this piece of flawlessly written political satire.

    Carys

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg