I never put my foot down or even tried

to govern and I never pushed a boat out

or offered straw for a poll and my mother

sometimes screamed so loud our neighbours

pretended to water their lawns and my father

would drink so much he’d lose his hearing –

my old man with his tv channels on yell

and my mother shouting it down

so that there was only ever silence

below noise. That was our government

and still I do not think government is evil


or that conspiracy is anything but silence

and maybe you and I needed bills

like the old boys on capitol hill, maybe

we needed debate, gavel bangs, and lashings

of a whip. But I couldn’t call that government

to order because all I’d ever learned

of government was from father’s hand

across mom’s face and all I ever learned

of talking was from the tv so loud

it drowned out everything honest

so I could not tell what was puppet

and what was shadow. So, when my mother

finally took to the lawn and threw her eyes

at her own home I think I understood

the single government of my father


like the night you came home drunk,

your feet wet from the walk and I spied

your new congress and wished

my own government wasn’t owned

by the same old ghosts of old men,

who only listened to their lawns

and cashed their checks and kept up

the monosyllabic megaphone

till the garage door opened,

the engine turned and we were left

with only noise and the cold majority

of silence below noise.


First published in Gutter Issue 5, 2011.