“Pillars” & “Survival,” Two Poems by Sam Friedman

Sam Friedman


Like a pillar of salt

ground into the wounds of a world,

Washington’s monument looms

like a shade over Capital’s America.


As a child, I watched fireworks

beneath its erection,

watched rockets spew stars from

earth to sky

while “Oh, say can you see”

boomed forth around us.


Now, our nation’s lies

fly forth like dollars over rivers

while our drones shoot rockets

not for joy but for murder.

Investments fly through WiFi

by-passing dying seas

and an atmosphere pregnant with the carbon

Capital has seeded,

while the people of the Earth foresee only

terror ahead.


But are we really like Lot?

Is there no turning back?

Can’t the anger of billions

de-man the pillars of death?



Although we all knew it was impossible,

Western Civilization nonetheless survived

the centuries of warming,

survived the deaths of salmon, cod and sturgeon,

the final die-offs of hummingbirds and eagles,

the disappearance of honey and bees.

Flowers died, but rats and cockroaches lived on,

as did the mutant skunks to greet each rising sun

with their subtle perfume

as sacrifice to the gods

who helped nachos, Fritos, Big Macs

and other totems of the Good Life

to survive.

None of the robots who ran the factories,

staffed the stores, kept accounts of corporate profits,

and threw out the Pepsis and TV dinners

when they passed their due dates

so the rats and skunks could thrive

could tell you why or how this magic happened,

and none remembered people

gone some million years.



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