“Electorate” by Leah Tieger

Leah Tieger


The owl calls to itself its single question. The answer
has stray dog eyes. It says these men want to save us
in their image, tells us this woman serves existing power,
a necessary raincoat. There are so many more eggs to break.
The owl talks like an owl, the men like men. One talks
like Jesus. His gospel proceeds from one device to another,
our new minds a contagion, as much turned to him as to
his corn-haired Judas, a vote for the murder of reason,
a vote for the assassination of love. The owl is like him,
like us, which is to say we eat our own, our afterbirth
coins in the temple. They catch the light in green eyes
and soft, pale hands. This is how we tithe, by the white skin
of our teeth. There is a beginning no one can remember,
not even the owl, each feather a story of pomegranate
and flood. Each wing greets the air at our waking.
Each beat speaks the name of the almost nighttime woman
who lived without raincoats. She went without everything
there is to go without. At least there’s this. These men
were never raised by pharaohs, adopted into power
with coal in their mouths. Oh how god speaks to them
and their tongues are burning leaves. They light the people
who hear them on fire, turn the black and white cities
that raised them into ash. Gray is not a meeting in the middle,
but the burnt remains of your home. There is an end
and no one knows it, not even the owl, who cradles its meal
in the cage of its feet. The owl brings us fur, brings us skeleton,
turns its hingeless head, and offers its only answer. You,
and you know how this goes. Those socialist Jews die bloody.
We will pray to them, ask them to save us. They’re gone.

Poets Respond
March 1, 2016

[download audio]


Leah Tieger: “‘Electorate’ is written in response to comments made by both Republican and Democrat pollsters outside of my district courthouse (in Dallas) on my way to and from early voting. ‘She serves the powerful, the status quo.’—Bernie supporter, about Hillary Clinton. ‘That socialist Jew.’—Republican, about Bernie Sanders. (This socialist Jew walked past the vitriol in that man’s voice while he smiled and said hello; and of course there’s the irony inherent in his likely Christianity.) The entire experience highlighted the many lenses through which we view our candidates; the stories, both media-generated and self-generated, that we tell ourselves in order to label others and avoid any real attempt to understand issues outside our understanding. How we do this says more about us than it does about the candidates.”

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