My Local Rising

You ask, “Must art be political?”
First of, art is always political.

Enter any modern art museum,
You’ll be greeted immediately
With Minimalist oils, the same
That decorate corporate lobbies, and
Unlike zigzags that gladden brutes, these
CEO-sponsored smears and stripes cost
Legs, nuts, torsos and even entire countries.
Huge yet hazy, they awe, but don’t irk clients.

Or take Abstract Expressionism.
Content-free, mostly, it appears
Apolitical, but it coincided exactly
With the hyper masculine posturing
Of the American state, or consider

Language Poetry. With its constant
Meandering and quick shifts, it
Echoes television, so that too
Is political, since it reinforces
The tranquilizing and flattening
Media tactics of our masters.

Pushing a glamorized death,
They want you to be divorced
From all that surround you,
Not just your city or town,
But the one you sleep with,
The food you eat, the room
You’re in, this moment. Life

Is mediated, then. Between
One and all is a screen.
Fixated by this, I can’t
Feel your breath on me.

Yes, I’m talking to you. You.
Frightening each other with
Our homely beauty, we must
Eat and have sex sideways,
But let’s try, for good, to kiss
With no melody of any kind.
Canned tunes are our opiate.
Turn them off to hear ourselves.
Measure all with our bodies.

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He's tracking our deteriorating social scape through his frequently updated photo blog, Postcards from the End of America. Read other articles by Linh.