Election Day, 2008

The undecided have finally made up their minds or gone into hiding
the rest of us are babbling brooks
a friend reports she’s too keyed up to sleep
an armchair economist suffers visions of sea-view mansions
sliding onto the highway
a guy on the street loves the idea of young kids in the White House
but he has decided to vote for the older man with experience
someone at the mall holds up a sign: “$ for health & education
not foreign wars!”
Candidate A declares his opponent intends to spread the wealth
“Boo!” the crowd hisses
Candidate B will “take out” the leader of Pakistan if necessary
Progressives react with scalded tongues
an elder warns that whenever we hang our hope and despair
on somebody else’s shoulders
he or she will break our hearts
canvassers knock on the door
Howard Zinn’s radio voice whirs like electric beaters mixing a cake
in World War II he dropped bombs on civilians
he didn’t think about what he was doing then
but now he does
we live in a hair-trigger world of nuclear weapons
and don’t underestimate the mega business of conventional weapons
a speaker says that someone in Latin America once wrote on a wall
“Let’s save pessimism for better times”
a Congolese mother cradles a dying baby
mute with hunger her older children straggle back to the village
along the road armed rebels wait for the treaty to snap
the mother tells the tv reporter she’d rather be shot by rebels
than watch her children starve to death
here at home a media flap over the price of a candidate’s wardrobe
and is it a plus for a woman to shoot a moose?
“War is no longer an option for solving conflicts,” Professor Z concludes
and R. D. Laing in the ‘60s: “Going crazy may be a sane response
to an insane situation”
plain as the nose on our face
eat of this cake and quadruple in size like Alice
think outside of the keyhole
both candidates repeatedly reference prices at the pump
how breadwinners worry around their kitchen tables
during the summer we wanted our soldiers home from Iraq
candidate B is saying yes but also we must double
our troops in Afghanistan
a shopkeeper offers some common sense: but haven’t we seen
on 60 Minutes (or maybe it’s Bill Moyers) Afghanistan
craggier than the moon
and Pashtun warlords staking human heads
along the Pakistani border?
an early voter pulled the lever before she realized
voting a straight ticket did not include the President
she exits the booth weeping
voting rights activists explain the complications
working class people cannot afford to stand in line for hours
they have to get back to work or pick up their children at daycare
for weeks we’re barraged with pre-recorded telephone messages
please be sure to go to the polls next Tuesday
how could we forget?
unless something looms larger
a child’s fever rocketing off the charts
a composer engulfed by cascading notes
the pollsters insist they are not seers they only report the numbers
so why are they grinning like Cheshire cats?
matrons for the Grand Old Party are waving flags at a rally
smiling hard like sunlight on fields of ice
what does it mean to wave the flag?
what did it ever mean?
if everything has already happened
history could wise us up
but truth in politics doesn’t equate with a hard look in the mirror
“Election Day” unfurls like a banner across the morning dark
maybe today the American people (whoever we turn out to be)
will shove the juggernaut over a cliff
and Congolese mothers stealing back to the village will dig up
something to feed their starving children

Major geographic hubs for Anne Valley-Fox have included Paterson, New
Jersey, Santa Monica, Berkeley and San Francisco, California, and
northern New Mexico. Her poems are collected in Sending the Body Out
(Zephyr Press, 1986), Fish Drum Magazine Volume 15 (Fish Drum Press,
1999) and Point of No Return (La Alameda Press, 2005). Her newest
volume, How Shadows Are Bundled, will be published by University of
New Mexico Press in September, 2009.

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