Front Street by Howard Moss

A poem I wanted to share. I thought it an excellent metaphor to the perdicament with the National Security Agencies overall collection of good-natured Americans. The overall collection of data can destroy a persons life:

FRONT STREET

I

The moon’s little skullcap,

Dry divinty,

Has brought all color

Into question:

What is you skin now–

Lime or gray?

It has a kind of phosphorescent shine.

Fluorescent? Is that what I mean?

There are no words to describe it.

 

II

That greasy tug

Might be a spy,

That flashing lens

A trained binocular.

A death rattle has obsessed the tree

And a strangling sound the harbor

water,

Which keeps saying, “Don’t count on

me!”–

As if we were such fools

To count on it ever!

 

III

I’m sorry the sick palms are so run-

down,

The Front Street, which used to be

so gay,

Looks like the street of a plague-

ridden town–

Empty, apprehensive, dirty.

Do not go down the step into the

boat.

A storm is coming.

Can’t you hear the wind?

Do you think I enjoy being arbitrary?

Do what I say.

Or else we’d better say goodbye right

now.

 

IV

Why did I bring you to Front Street?

Because

The boats are here,

In case we have to make a quick get-

away.

All right. Call it irrational fear.

The Jews in Germany, one year be-

fore

They saw the handwriting on the

wall,

Would have thought you mad

If you’d told them where

They’s all end up. Think of Oedipus

A second before

The blind seer

Opened his mouth.

No. We’re not going back.

We’re going someplace. Anywhere.

Somewhere we can be, temporarily,

safe.

 

V

You think nature’s a left-handed com-

pliment?

A French one’s more like it;

I could have told you, twenty years

ago,

It’s a dirty dig. Think of a time,

Five years, or one,

When people weren’t at each other’s

throats.

Everywhere there a miles of files

With our names typed in them, yours

and mine.

The point is to be invisible

Or blinding, nothing in between–

Famous or anonymous…

But it’s much too late for people like

us.

 

VI

O.K., O.K. We’ll go back to the

house.

A false alarm?

What a child you are!

Remember when we get back into

town,

And the sun’s shining, oh, so bright,

And everything seems so right, so fine,

So permanent,

Front Street will be waiting at our

backs.

– HOWARD MOSS (date unknown)

 

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