Outside the box

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. . . . They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. . .
— F. Scott Fitzgerald

Inside the box all is calm, cool, cultivated.
Voices are modulated, discussions are civil
Even when disagreements occur.
Everyone in the box
Has impeccable table manners
Large vocabularies
And excellent pronunciation.
Inside the box people believe
In addressing even the most contentious issues
Through polite discourse
And in-the-boxers are horrified
By intemperate outbursts of outrage,
Name-calling, coarse language
As well as unfamiliarity with Roberts Rules of Order
And the Norton Anthology of English Literature.
Inside the box there is constant
Tongue-clucking and head-shaking
About the inability of those outside
To be reasonable and patient,
To control their base instincts and emotions.

The box is climate-controlled
So those inside never suffer
From extremes of heat and cold.
There are large windows everywhere
That let in light
And offer unparalleled views
Of the distant hills
And the night sky.
The box is an ideal place for fine brandy
A game of chess
A witty exchange of bon mots.
Some in the box take great interest
In the outsiders,
Have received lavish grants
To study them exhaustively
And write Important Tomes
In order to comfort each other
With explanations of the shortcomings
Of the externals.
They have found that those plebs
Are congenitally lacking
In moral fiber,
Ambition, respect for authority
And self-control;
Have no grasp of the stock market,
Waiting for Godot,
The merits of meritocracy,
Or, most distressingly, the necessity of the box.

But the exterior ones have no interest
In the masturbatory cogitations of the insiders
For they are aware of deeper truths
About dispossession and oppression,
The asymmetrical distribution of power,
And the unstoppability of the people rising.
They know that the day is soon coming
When the ground will tremble
Hierarchies will collapse
And the air reverberate with a revolutionary cry
That will split the sky:
Boxes? We don’t need any stinking boxes!

Buff Whitman-Bradley’s new book is At the Driveway Guitar Sale, from Main Street Rag Publishing. He podcasts poems on aging, memory, and mortality at thirdactpoems.podbean.com and lives in northern California with his wife, Cynthia. Read other articles by Buff.