No Bottomless Holes

submitted by Karl Patten

Woodchucks, foxes, rabbits, possums,
And other small creatures live in holes
Underground. They abide in earth,
Often hibernate, with stones, roots,
Mud, familiar with the temperature
Of the planet’s surface, at home
With the silence on a dirt floor.

In the third grade, after some whacks
And bruises on the playground, children
Learn, with a secret glee, that bullies
Are really cowards, that flaunted power
Shrinks faced with the figure of justice.

Some troops found Saddam Hussein holed-up.
The unclean monster crept out trebling,
Afraid to shoot himself or his captors,
One more bully revealed as a coward,
Gone to ground in palpitating fear.
There are no bottomless holes, no exits.

We know that Bush, Cheney, all that crew
Of strutters have made well-appointed
Holes for themselves in the sad exploited
Appalachian hills and mountains. When
Will they crawl out whimpering, mission
Unaccomplished, driveling lies, scared
Shitless of the Principal? No bottomless holes.

From Irreplaceable You
By Karl Patten

Commentary:

“No Bottomless Holes” is a poem written in anger, despite its orderly structure and texture. I am always glad to find deliberately political poems, but, for me, too often do they go off the rails in their eagerness and damage themselves as works of art. Dante is the poet who could write in rage and scorn and dazzles us with his brilliance, but he always maintained strict meter and rhyme. Dante stands out as the poet who wrote with strong emotion – even hatred – but made a beautiful poem. I can not pretend to be another Dante, but I can think of him as a model.

This poem begins with a stanza devoted to the simple animals of our countryside and how they are comfortable living in holes. The second stanza was crucial for me because we all learn, at a fairly early age, that bullies are really cowards; that the bully in the schoolyard at recess is himself afraid of being sent to the Principal’s office, which fortunately happens. I am sure that everyone is familiar with the photograph of Saddam Hussein cravenly coming out of his hole, the big bully caught.

But my motivating anger was not with Saddam, but rather with Bush, Cheney and the rest of that gang that hijacked this nation. This poem was written probably in 2005, when it had become apparent what evil they had – and still were – doing. Now, several years later, I still want to see them impeached or punished in some way, according to due process. I had read of the bunkers they had made in the Appalachians and could imagine them in their holes and could imagine them crawling out, bullies like Saddam and afraid of proper authority.

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