Statistics and Flood Prevention

The lake was lowered over the weekend,
last remnant of summer drained
like mercury from a broken thermometer,
where there was calm water on Friday,
nestled against a tree lined shore,
Monday reveals barren mud flats,
less than a trickle flowing under the bridge,
cracks already forming as the dirt dries.

The lake is in a prosperous county
where last year there were almost
10,000 children born — 3,300 of which
were to unwed mothers, another 900
to teenagers — and 2,700 conceptions
were classified as induced terminations.
Twelve percent of the population receives
government assistance, $200 million worth
of lottery sales, $10 billion deposited into banks
and forty-five hundred reported cases of child abuse.

On Tuesday there was an election: people
in office changed, party control changed.
Wednesday morning, the victorious
rhetoric filling the airwaves was strangely familiar.
Wednesday night a nineteen year old boy
was arrested when found standing over the man
he had stabbed to death, his father. There was
no mention of whether either had voted.

Come spring, the newly elected will be
in office — learning the expectations and rewards
of power and control — filling the air
with empty promises and their version
of vacuous pomposity. The gates on the dam
will close with the coming of rain, returning
the lake to the tree line and hiding the mud
beneath artificial waves. More scared girls
will be making appointments at the clinics,
and more young men will be going to jail.
The political season has turned. Nothing
of importance has changed.

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1 Comment

Filed under Poetry, Politics

One response to “Statistics and Flood Prevention

  1. peach blossom moth

    This is SO powerful, Mark. I’m especially impressed by the last two lines and this section:
    “Wednesday morning, the victorious
    rhetoric filling the airwaves was strangely familiar.
    Wednesday night a nineteen year old boy
    was arrested when found standing over the man
    he had stabbed to death, his father. There was
    no mention of whether either had voted.”

Some of what I write is true, some is fiction; most is merely possibility.

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