The Ballad of the Girly Man

For Felix

The truth is hidden in a veil of tears
The scabs of the mourners grow thick with fear

A democracy once proposed
Is slimmed and grimed again

By men with brute design

Who prefer hate to rime

Complexity’s a four-letter word
For those who count by nots and haves

Who revile the facts of Darwin

To worship the truth according to Halliburton

The truth is hidden in a veil of tears
The scabs of the mourners grow thick with fear

Thugs from hell have taken freedom’s store
The rich get richer, the poor die quicker

& the only god that sanctions that

Is no god at all but rhetorical crap

So be a girly man
& take a gurly stand

Sing a gurly song

& dance with a girly sarong

Poetry will never win the war on terror
But neither will error abetted by error

We girly men are not afraid
Of uncertainly or reason or interdependence

We think before we fight, then think some more

Proclaim our faith in listening, in art, in compromise

So be a girly man
& sing this gurly song

Sissies & proud

That we would never lie our way to war

The girly men killed christ
So the platinum DVD says

The Jews & blacks & gays

Are still standing in the way

We’re sorry we killed your god
A long, long time ago

But each dead solider in Iraq

Kills the god inside, the god that’s still not dead.

The truth is hidden in a veil of tears
The scabs of the mourners grow thick with fear

So be a girly man
& sing a gurly song

Take a gurly stand

& dance with a girly sarong

Thugs from hell have taken freedom’s store
The rich get richer, the poor die quicker

& the only god that sanctions that

Is no god at all but rhetorical crap

So be a girly man
& sing this gurly song

Sissies & proud

That we would never lie our way to war

The scabs of the mourners grow thick with fear
The truth is hidden in a veil of tears

Contributor

Charles Bernstein

Charles Bernstein’s most recent books are Pitch of Poetry (2016) and Recalculating (2013), both from the University of Chicago Press. He is the co-editor, with Tracie Morris, of The Best American Experimental Writing 2016 (Wesleyan University Press, 2017). He teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is co-director of PennSound.

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