Vigilance has been forced upon us

Vigilance has been forced upon us.
Occupy was defiance. Artists are the antennae.
A dying beast rages against death.
Forget the china if you have any.

Vigilance has been forced upon us.
Occupy indeed. The alarm has rung.
The tide is rising. A million people
look my way as if to say who

are you kidding? I know: Black
parents have been teaching their sons
vigilance since before I was born
or my European ancestors fancied

the trials of survival in the wilds
of North America where between
the blanket and the bullet
and the slaughter of the bison....

I know all this like the call of the loon.
And vigilance has been forced upon us.
As sure as your flat-screen internet-
connected high-definition television

set with surround sound augments
your private-public echo chamber.
As sure as your Adidas running shoes
and aspic coloured tie make you fit

for the urban parade or your double-
wide in the woods with its compost
and ash outhouse is perfect for those
moose-hunting weekend getaways.

As sure as graduation and Grandma
and baptismal Sundays. Vigilance
has been forced upon us. By every rapist
who ever penned a letter, by every suit

who counted pennies sweetly saved
from working women’s weekly wages
the better to afford extravagances
only a lady could possibly deserve

like intricately carved ivory
stitched into silk-embroidered garb,
like endangered species furs
or just a second family car

that she could call hers. Vigilance
will be all the rage in country bars
and at dinner hour across the nations
for a while and then it will go out of style

in some neighbourhoods at first
but like frost when winter power
goes out it will return. Some will shove,
others push. It is the spasmic pulse

of the roaring ogre’s fire.
Identify what is not fire.
And give it space. Calvino.
Leave the burn treatment therapy

to someone else. Paramedics
of the emergency kind. Legal
defence. Suicide intervention.
Failed abortion operations.

Madness. Climate remediation?
This is not a test. This is not
a New Year’s resolution. Vigilance
has been forced upon us.

For the duration of the day ahead
and for the remainder. This is not
a reminder. A Canadian politician
of Auschwitz had not heard. Absurd.

Vigilance is no Victory Day
remembrance. It is no more
the preserve of the reserve guard.
It is foist upon us. And it is hard.



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