Thursday, June 23, 2016

Poem: I'm Tired of Being Divided Against Each Other

Rectification Central welcomes Marco "Cuban Heels" Rubio, statesman and poet (see below), back into the world of public affairs and the 2020 presidential campaign!

Yes, he's decided to offer himself to the people of Florida for a few months in 2017-18 as their continuing Senator, in spite of the inconvenience and suffering it will cause him and his lovely young family, so he can have a good-paying job he doesn't have to show up for when the campaign starts rolling and #RepublicansInDisarray after the Trump debacle might be desperate enough to turn to him. What a hero!

Not that it wasn't a struggle, between the quiet, self-effacing Rubio who longs for nothing so much as to live in private dignity, caring for his loved ones and in-laws, and enjoying the simple life of an attorney in a rainmaker sinecure and a few corporate board positions, and the deeply committed Rubio who says, no, I just can't let the people live without the benefit of me telling them what's what—they're depending on me!

This deep division—these two souls warring in a single breast—was the subject of a short but poignant lyric he wrote in the thick of the 2016 campaign. I wanted to run it then, but he dropped out so quickly I never got around to it, and I'm happy to have the chance to do that now, beneath the fold.

Editor's note:

We campaign in poetry, Mario Cuomo said, but rarely has this been literally true, though candidates do campaign with all the rhetoric they can muster, obviously, harrying the enemy with unpredictable synecdoches and alliterations to soften them up before we send in the ground tropes.

But the 2016 presidential campaign may turn out to be unique in this as in so many respects, with so many fresh, odd voices, one of the oddest of which is that of Senator Marco Rubio, as in the following expression of grief and fatigue in response to President Obama's February 3 visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore.

I'm Tired of Being Divided Against Each Other
a poem
by Marco Rubio
I’m tired of being divided against each other
for political reasons like this president’s done.
Always pitting people against each other. Always.
Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque.
Oh, you know, basically implying that
America is discriminating against Muslims.

                                                      Of course
there’s going to be discrimination in America
of every kind. But the bigger issue is radical
Islam. And by the way, radical Islam
poses a threat to Muslims themselves. But again,
it’s this constant pitting people against each other --
that I can’t stand that. It’s hurting our country badly.
We can disagree on things, right?
I’m a Dolphin fan; you're a Patriot fan.
Cuban heels on Jersey Shore's The Situation, vintage 2010, via Daily Mail.
Unlike so many young poets, Rubio doesn't write in this piece in free verse, but a definite blank-verse rhythm, or pulse, sprawling over a frame of iambic pentameter, a little like the Shakespeare of Antony and Cleopatra, in a fluid line that varies from a burbling of too many weak syllables ("Américá is discríminating agáinst Múslims") to a crushing spondee near the end ("Wé can dísagrée on thíngs, ríght?"). With that pulse, and the artful repetitions, it cries to be read aloud.

But the most impressive achievement is the language of dissociative personality disorder he's found for conveying his derangement in the Age of Obama, where "I'm... divided against each other", arguing as a Miami Dolphins fan with the Marco Rubio who rooted for the New England Patriots (as he wandered the hills of New Hampshire during the NFL playoffs), apparently because of radical Islam and the terrible things it has done to America. Thanks, as it were, Obama.

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