We are jammed up, by the mute, stubborn desire that we fail;
stifled. It’s hard even to exhale or inhale.
I’d love a fight, of swinging fists, of sweating damp
shoulders, of panting oaths and thudding blows—
anything is better than this slow and muffled cramp.
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” yet every venture
is coiled, tied down and snubbed in filaments of delay.
We were not born for this, to have all that we essay
subjected to a cold-eyed banker’s censure.
Pilgrims we were, and progress was our due:
new worlds to conquer; fresh wind across our bows;
far horizons sought and claimed and new.
But no. Stopped, stuffed and stifled we stall,
ensnared by men determined to be small.
—from Rattle #36, Winter 2011
Anonymous has been a member of the United States Congress after serving in other public offices. His or her frustration with the process of raising the debt limit at the end of July 2011 drove her (or him) to write this poem.