“If politics were the science of humanity.”
Dear American people, I’ve just got
to talk to you about your government.
You are the government,
the way we are the earth and sky, the way
we are the blood and the government
the branches of the tree. You and I
are the government and we need
no more amateur presidents, please.
Once again, if you and I are the suit,
the government’s the tie we wear into the world.
America, we are the fabric; and to knit that tie together
takes statecraft. Is it too much to ask ourselves
to pay attention?
To make of government a proper tool?
To make of governing a skill and craft to
steer the ship of earth into daylight?
Source: Dear Oxygen: New & Selected Poems, 1966-2011, published by University of New Orleans Press (2011).
Lewis MacAdams is the author of a dozen books and tapes of poetry, as well as The Birth of The Cool, a cultural history of the idea of cool. MacAdams is cofounder of Friends of The Los Angeles River (FoLAR) established in 1985 bring the Los Angeles River back to life.
These poems by some of L.A.’s finest poets are intended to help Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti look closely at our city and listen with care to its diverse voices, from janitors to sidewalk fruit sellers to donut shop insomniacs. They are also an antidote to the platitudes of the campaign trail, and a reminder that the best political speech—and acts—can tap into people’s deepest emotions and aspirations.