A Poem for your Midterm Elections

Since the midterm elections are taking place today in the U.S., it seems like an appropriate time to post a political poem. This particular poem, written as a hyperbolic ghazal, I wrote during my MA studies but revised after the 2016 presidential election. Following that particularly hard day, this feeling began to stir inside of me (well if I’m honest – loads of feelings began to stir), a feeling that I was, in part, responsible. No, I didn’t vote for him. And yes, I voted for someone else. But, I also didn’t take him seriously; I didn’t see him as an actual threat, and because of that, I didn’t do everything in my power to stop his rise to power. In this way, I feel I was complicit in his being elected to my country’s highest political office because I didn’t do more to stop him. 

The ghazal form’s emphasis on repetition worked quite well here, as different variations of the word “excuse” emerge while the speaker (myself) laments the election results and her role in not doing enough to change the outcome. Humans are master excuse-makers; we’ll do anything to convince someone (even ourselves) that something wasn’t our fault; that it was out of our hands in some way when in fact there’s almost always a choice. Excuses take away our power. These days I try to give 100% to what matters most, and I try to steer clear of excuses as much as I can by explicitly owning my decisions (and my shortcomings) for what they are, and I feel I’m the better for it, both as a writer and as a human. 

I’ve posted the poem below, but also please stay tuned — I am so honored that this poem will be featured on the Talking Ink Podcast, in which I will be reading the poem aloud and talking about the theme of “outsiders” as it applies to writing, to my life as an American living in Cardiff, and to this poem in particular. Finally, if you’re American, I hope you’re voting today and doing so sensibly and with discerning caution.

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This poem was originally published in my chapbook Along the Diminishing Stretch of Memory by Dancing Girl Press in 2014.

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