Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Atlas Mugged

Atlas Mugged

I don’t like you much, John Galt,
born of a bitter barren mother,
witching ethics into egotism,
confusing freedom with just the wanting,
people’s rights with tyrant’s lust.
Why even bother asking who you are
when everybody knows?

You’re just too good to be true, John Galt,
striding through her pages cloaked in power
in your noble strength and mystery,
pretending to create the world from abstract air
sprung from your handsome forehead all intact,
but no one sees that as you're swarming up the dogpile,
you're crushing rock-ribbed bodies beneath your boots.

It's not your spotless well-kept hands that lay the track
or staff your clanking cars. A mass of others
make your transcontinental timetables all print true,
and hold up this your great enormous enterprise
on their wide and sturdy backs while you

explore your angry soul, John Galt, and
fill your endless coffers and
cry, “I am the victim!
of little men and littler rules. “

You cry, “I take the risks!
and there can never be enough.
but I need your money,
your jobs and lives for me to wager on a throw.
Please sign for them here so I can go on gambling,
and have you underwrite me
when my card-house melts and burns.”

You're  both a diner and a cooker-up of money.
You whisper, “I’m the boss, the proud consumer
of little men and littler rules, They'll be my dinner
and I'll have second helpings
of all my just desserts. 
As for you,
I’ll laissez-faire you, dice and slice you,
make of your marrow bones
a chaos soup for me to sip.”

I don’t like you much at all, John Galt
and that’s an understatement.
Nothing must restrain you while
you roll your diamond dice.
You juggle worlds because you can
and drop the markets’ glittering millions,
still slick with sweat and labor
down a stinking sewer of avarice
for a loser’s game of lust.

Were you different once, John Galt?
Perhaps then you cared for something
that was greater than yourself.
But now you’re old and care for nothing,
maudlin drunk with all that dark and lustrous wine
men drink when they assume they wear
the mantle of the gods.

We know who you are, John Galt,
hero of deluded adolescents. If only
that round globe you say you balance
could be seen for what it is:
our lives that are your toy,
the rolling ball of all your greed,
and if only you could be the one beneath it
when the world you’ve pushed so hard falls off our backs.

November 2010

Also submitted to  Big Tent Poetry  for their Monday prompt(slightly revised to include the  word, 'Enough,' though I think the concept is already present.)

Posted for One Shot Wednesday at the inimitable One Stop Poetry

Disclaimer: I freely admit it's been thirty or more years since I read Atlas Shrugged, and that I may have taken some liberties in modernizing Mr. Galt  into current socio-economic context. The poem is just a poem, and while it obviously reflects my personal opinion, it's not particularly intended to debunk the validity of Objectivism or modern day libertarianism.

Additional Info: For those who may not have been exposed or want to refresh, here's a quick linky to the wikipedia entries on John Galt, the character, and Atlas Shrugged, the 1950's dystopian  novel by Ayn Rand.

Image: El mundo, by Manuel Domínguez Guerra, wikimedia commons


  1. Lovin' those last two lines, my friend.

  2. I'm not sure who John Galt is but I feel your distain!

  3. Atlas shrugged and left us to our own devices, hiding in the pages, and like Gatsby getting richer while the poor get poorer. Powerhouse writing, Joy. Can't wait to see what Pete writes.
    This just got better as I went along..why did I picture Donald Trump throughout?

  4. Timely, politicized, oh-so-effective flow and words. Exemplary.

  5. Truly a great political commentary.

  6. Wow, hedgewitch! You could substitute the name of a lot of figures in today's world of politics and finance for John Galt. Well-done, scathing call to consciousness.

  7. As a chef and poet...You know I love...
    "You're both a diner and a cooker-up of money.
    You whisper, “I’m the boss, the proud consumer
    Of little men and littler rules, They'll be my dinner
    And I'll have second helpings
    Of all my just desserts.
    As for you,
    I’ll laissez-faire you, dice and slice you,
    Make of your marrow bones
    A chaos soup for me to sip.”

  8. nice play of words..and socio-political commentary...in a creative shell...nice one shot

  9. "Men drink when they assume they wear
    The mantle of the gods." -- soooo good and so true. Your take on Rand's character (and I smiled at your title) was awesome and timely.

  10. Even I liked this and I can't stand poetry ;) Awesome poem.

  11. Hiya!

    I had to think back to who John Galt was: that was a blast from a very distant pass...but you did something amazing and admirable here: a political/social commentary poem that held to the issue and was fine poetry at the same time.

    Enjoyed this piece, you have quite the voice.

    Lady Nyo

  12. ....It would take 30 or more years to read an Ayn Rand novel.
    Hats off to you My Friend!

  13. wow - what a piece!
    i esp. liked..
    Perhaps then you cared for something
    That was greater than yourself.
    But now you’re old and care for nothing..

  14. Thanks everyone. I'm glad you were able to make it through the whole thing. This is one of the longest poems I've ever written, and it asks a lot of the reader, I think. Fortunately, I have very intelligent and perspicacious readers. :)

    @skav that's quite the tribute, finally getting a comment out of you. Doubly so considering your feelings for poetry. ;-) many thanks.

  15. Well done. It is frightening some people still cling to everything Ayn Rand said.

  16. This is a fine broadside on one of the most artfully pernicious works of the 20th century. And don't apologise for implicitly extending the well-tempered barrage against the nihilism of headless and heartless libertarianism. The prosecution carries the case!

  17. Read the book years ago & remember the socio-political rants that Ann put forth. I feel your fire too.

  18. Keeping my opinion (a good one actually) of Atlas Shrugged and its contents aside, I must say I really liked your poem! Cuz it so so soooo speaks to our current socio-economic situation... A strong message conveyed in a very adroit manner!! Bravo, hedgewitch!!
    And no, I will never bother to ask Who is John Galt.. :)
    I prefer Howard Roark anyway :)

  19. Very very beautiful... I enjoyed the whole of it.. you have a way of creating images... and thoughts...
    the last lines were so beautifully powerful..

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya
    Twitter: @VerseEveryDay
    Blog: http://shadowdancingwithmind.blogspot.com

  20. Hedgewitch your words are very powerful here.
    I can feel the anger.
    Thanks for the link.

  21. Powerful piece, from title to end. Nice!

  22. I'm no fan of Ayn Rand's philosophy so your words rang true. I've only read The Fountainhead and Atlas; yes, years and years ago.

    I have trouble with her the way I have trouble with Wagner: incredibly gifted, but completely at odds with the world I want.

  23. Thanks all. Know I got off into a bit of a rant. Dick Jones, poemblaze and Deb, thanks for summing up my own attitudes completely.

    Special thanks to all those who were able to appreciate the poem even without being familiar with the main character, and even more so to those who found something in it even while disagreeing. Tolerating many views is the basis of a civil society, something we need badly these days.

  24. What a great reminder of a magnificent book. So current to our world right now, also. Your last two lines were perfect!

  25. It's been decades since I read this book -- and it matters not at all. The rhythms of this piece carried me all the way through.

  26. I am going to need to create a lexicon of superlatives reserved only for your poetry. I'll get started before reading more of your awing work. In addition, I particularly enjoyed Song of the Lithophyte. Also, your level 65 Druid makes me laugh every time I visit.

  27. Anna, it's very flattering to have you go back through my work and read it. Thank you so much. Lithophyte is especially dear to my heart. It was the first poem I ever wrote that made me feel like I'd accomplished something by setting it down, and is still my sentimental favorite of all my poems.And I'm glad you get a laugh from my alternate personality. ;-)


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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