New Friends

Posted: March 11, 2010 in Poetry

Last night was the Ingredients workshop and it went very well. Tonight I will be slamming at Bill Brown 1-2-3 at the Cajun Attic. I have a new one minute poem that I want to try out. It is called ‘Silly Putty’.

CONTEXT: March, 2008

This poem grew organically out of an idea that had been brewing for a while. I operate in three different worlds. There is the poetry world. There is the gaming world. There is the work world.
I realized a while back that if I only lived in one of those worlds (like the poetry world), I may be happier, but I would certainly be less informed.

During the last civic election I was talking to a couple of my gaming friends and I mentioned that if we were lucky, Alex Munter would become mayor. They both said, “Oh god, no.”

Really? I though the was the obvious choice… but that is because I had been spending time in my poetry world where such things seem more obvious.

Another time I heard a co-worker talk about going to a family reunion where a member of the extended family brought his same-sex partner. This co-worker thought that this was inappropriate since he shouldn’t be “forced to explain it to his kids”. (His kids are teenagers, by the way… not that it should matter.)

Does this mean I should accept stupid behaviour just because it happens in a different world? No… but it shows me how sheltered we can be when surrounded by people he share our same fundamental values.

    New Friends

I need to find some new friends.
I don’t mean that in a happy sunshine
Everyone needs love kind of way.
I mean it in a ‘my friends have
Been letting me down’ kind of way.
So, if you are my friend
And you are listening to this poem,
I am very disappointed in you.

Why so harsh against people
Who always have my back,
Give me emotional support when
I need it,
And stand by me through thick and thin?
People who are good, caring and kind?
The problem is, you see,
That they are TOO good, caring and kind.

My friends have done me a
Great disservice
By convincing me that the world
Is actually a pretty darned nice place.

I look around and what do I see?
Intelligent, articulate people
Who support human rights, freedom from
Corruption, equality to all
And adherence to basic human dignity.

Clearly when anyone talks about
Racism, sexism, homophobia,
Bigotry of any type,
They are obviously mistaken
Because there are no bigots left.

I know, because I asked around.

So when I pick up a paper
And see such accusations
I assume it is a work of fiction
And when I mention to my friends
That the paper is full of untruths
They agree with me
So I know it to be true
Because in addition to being
Good, caring and kind people
They are also honest to a fault.

But certain things of late
Have concerned me –
Confused me.
When Larry O’Brien was elected
I started to realize
Something was up.
I did my own exit poll
Of a cross-section of
Ottawa residents
Consisting completely of my
Own personal friends.
From that I discoverd that
In all of Ottawa
Had voted for him!
Think of the scandal!
The was bigger even than
Bush in Florida!
We aren’t talking about
Swaying a few percentage points.
The numbers are staggering.
By my calculations, not even
Larry O’Brien voted for Larry O’Brien!

But more and more things started
To creep in.
I still saw gas-guzzling SUVs
On the streets.
I still saw homeless people
Huddled for warmth.
I saw the feds try to decide
Which movies were worth watching
Using spurious ideas of what
Constitutes artistic merit.

I saw that clear-cut deforestation
Is still legal
And home grown marijuana is not.

How can this be,
When public sentiment
Demands something else?

So I popped my head out of the sand
And tried to discover if my view of
The common man
Represented reality.

I opened my eyes and looked
Past my friends who kept me
In the dark.

I saw Matthew Shepherd.
I saw Abner Louima.
I saw Timothy McVey.
And I started to cry.

How could I have been so blind?
The fault is my friends
Who led me to believe that there
Is caring in the world.

And so there is
And it is with friends like these
That I can make it another day
In a world of pro-life
Capital Punishment advocates
And ‘fighting for peace’ hypocrites.

So maybe I don’t need new friends
Just new focus groups
So I can see the world for what it is
And I can keep both my heart
And my eyes
Wide open.


Tomorrow will be the other poem I wrote inspired by a piece at the National Art Gallery.


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