Proper and Enduring
Yes, art cares
about the dead and the despairing and the exiled
but not too much: like the elephant mother
that nuzzles the corpse of her calf then rejoins the herd
or the weeds that sprout in radioactive deserts,
or the creatures that crawl among the skeletons of the mighty
after an asteroid has struck the earth.
Art waited patiently
as bodies lay lifeless on the slave ships
and were thrown into the sea.
It entered into the groans that declared 'I am'
and were joined note to note, the cadences
made and remade, chanted in the cotton fields
and sung as the blues (that strange, unimaginable fruit).
Art seeks to survive
and even now in the camps and the killing places
the thoughts are starting to gather
and the sounds, and the shapes imprinted on the eye,
the atoms of sympathy floating in the smoke
that will change into words, tales, pictures, songs,
representations: 'Thus it is' and 'It was so.'
Art nurtures itself, gaining strength
to even up the score:
finds in itself the hate, the force, the fury
to pronounce accusations, proper and enduring,
against the bastards of the earth:
to call them by their names
and give them no peace in history.