Two poems by Karl Jay Shapiro (1913-2000), quite relevant this very day of national elections in France and during the whole campaign that preceded it.
The liberal is your true undying friend
But disagree with him and that’s the end.
The radical, however, claims no friend
Except his catechism, which can bend.
In the revolution there are always cracks:
The Communists killed Trotsky with an ax.
The guns of the Idealists are red-hot:
Whoso commits nonviolence is shot.
Sestina: Of the Militant Vocabulary
The first word you must know is relevant,
The qualifier of experience.
Relevant experience of the revolution,
For instance, trains you to confront the pigs,
The first defense line of the power structure,
Which guards insidiously the Establishment.
What we are after is the Establishment,
Which acts as if we are not relevant
And forces us to wreck the power structure.
This confrontation is an experience
Not only for the people but for the pigs
Whom we’ll win over in the revolution.
When we make love we make the revolution,
As war is made by the Establishment,
For in our confrontation with the pigs
We prove to them that they’re irrelevant
And immaterial to the experience,
Which in itself can wreck the power structure.
The military-industrial power structure,
A major target of the revolution,
Must also be a sexual experience.
To expose the symbols of the Establishment
Expose yourself—it’s highly relevant
And absolutely petrifies the pigs.
In our utopia there will be no pigs
And no remains of any power structure
Except what we decide is relevant;
And what is relevant but revolution?
We spell the death of the Establishment,
Which will probably welcome the experience.
Meanwhile, experience the experience;
Demand, demand, and overwhelm the pigs
Till we in fact are the Establishment
And constitute a groovy power structure.
Remember the slogan of the revolution:
Now is forever; Now is relevant.
While pigs perpetuate the power structure,
Baby, be relevant to the revolution
Till we experience the Establishment.
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