Oh, say, can you see . . .

The voting districts are rigged so that choice is illusory

The people live on credit, with interest rates—usury

When they attempt to unite in defense of their interests

They are vilified and fired, blacklisted—communists


The young men of the underclass are shot by police

Or spend their lives locked up in cells much as beasts

The criminals, “better educated,” keep most all of their plunder

Though a bit goes to fines, and to donations and lawyers


And to accountants who ensure that to effective government

These fattest of all leeches contribute a measly percent

While telling politicians how the people’s money should be spent

How the people’s benefits should be reduced and public resources at low rents


To more leeches should be given—environmental health be damned.

Did those few who came for justice pick the wrong place to land?


William Eaton


Drawing—I fall in Rhône (Hommage à Cy Twombly), pen, colored pencils and water—is also by William Eaton, July 2017, Geneva, Switzerland.

It might be said that what pushed me over the edge was a Washington Post opinion piece: No matter how bad it gets for him, here’s why Trump isn’t getting impeached this year, by Philip Bump, July 14, 2017.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in whose hometown I find myself, was rather more far-reaching and pessimistic. A few lines from an English translation of his great Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes (1751), i.e. discourse on the origin and foundation of the inequality among human beings:

in the midst of so much philosophy, humanity, and civilization, and of such sublime codes of morality, we have nothing to show for ourselves but a frivolous and deceitful appearance, honor without virtue, reason without wisdom, and pleasure without happiness.

Le français, du avant-dernier paragraphe :

au milieu de tant de philosophie, d’humanité, de politesse et de maximes sublimes, nous n’avons qu’un extérieur trompeur et frivole, de l’honneur sans vertu, de la raison sans sagesse, et du plaisir sans bonheur.

Readers may also be interested in “The Limericks,” i.e.: Part I (Pence, Trump, Mueller, Capitalism), covering May 16, 2017 to July 1; Part II (Injustice, Trump, Illness, Poetry), July 2 to August 12; Part III (Animals, Capitalism, the News, First Impressions), July 2 to September 3, and Part IV (No nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals): September 4 to . . . ?

Click for pdf

Oh, say, can you see . . .

Categories: Poems (including Limericks), The Real World, Zed

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. Bill,

    This is a brilliant statement about the state of the union today. It works as a poem and as a plea. Good work!

    I met a man yesterday–actually, I complimented him on his bumper sticker which read “Resist”–whose father was on the flight crew of the Enola Gay. He said he was glad his parents were not alive to see the state of this country today. This was a man whom you would have sworn was a Republican–white, middle-aged or older, reasonably prosperous–but he is surely not!

    I keep knitting pink hats….

    love, Carol

    On Sat, Jul 15, 2017 at 9:46 AM, montaigbakhtinian wrote:

    > William Eaton posted: “The voting districts are rigged so that choice is > illusory The people live on credit, with interest rates—usury When they > attempt to unite in defense of their interests They are vilified and fired, > blacklisted—communists The young me” >

    • Thanks Carol. You might say that this is what comes from writing a “limerick” every day and getting fed up! Seriously — and I suppose African-Americans could think me a bit naive — but if there was ever justice in this country, it is certainly not now. People think we need to get rid of Trump and do some cybersecurity tinkering to protect the country from outside interference. But the rot is much more widespread and internal, and Trump simply one more product of it. Amen. – Bill (Thanks, too, for the story.)


  1. Pence, Trump, Comey, Mueller, Capitalism — The Limericks – montaigbakhtinian
  2. The Limericks, Part II (Injustice, Trump, Illness, Poetry) – montaigbakhtinian
  3. The Limericks, Part III (Animals, Capitalism, the News, First Impressions) – montaigbakhtinian
  4. The Limericks, Part IV (What will the future hold?) – montaigbakhtinian
  5. Despondent White House Criminals Should Look Up – montaigbakhtinian
  6. The Last Limerick – montaigbakhtinian

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