The Capitol of Dyslexia

I don’t mean to complain,
but things are getting hazy again.
Too late to wonder whether this weather
is tethered to something we’ve done,
nature’s karma, non-compliance
with her laws, at a loss now over how
to hit the brakes, fix what’s broken.
They’re fracking over in Hoboken;
I see it from the car. When we stop for gas,
the waitress comes to pour us tap water
and asks: leaded or unleaded? Dread
seeps into our vegetation, every bite
laced with hesitation. In Methuen,
Mass., he won by one vote, our man
on whom mass media took a pass,
while his competitor bared her
private part, her email server.
Not our finest hour, this odyssey to D.C.,
rivals unraveling, laying the lies
on thick to allay suspicion—
liar’s paradox. To live with evil
is liar’s paradise. The rightwing louts
have clout, caviling uncivilly, so
cavalier, shouting all they weren’t
allowed to say aloud, before; it’s
their right to bear fear. He wasn’t
armed, didn’t even make a fist;
nonetheless they stopped and frisked.
Who’s standing on principle—the
nation’s big shots, our principals?
Should underwater borrowers seek
principal forgiveness or just opt out,
drown in debt? Bankers, you wankers,
take that bet. In California, state of
emergency, desolate desert urgency,
farmers are dowsing, though they doubt
it will end the drought. What a state
we’re in. I cried a raft of tears for the
drowned Syrian boy, media’s metonym
for denying those from over there their
human rights. The powers that be are
cracking down on sacred rites; take off
your shoes and identity before the flight.
Cops dressed in their machine guns
after another shooting, straight men
in a twisted situation. For every cry
of outrage, there’s the one who weeps,
says nothing, another who’d rather
hold firearms than hands, yet another
stonewalling logic with criminal evasion.
Playboy prophets praying, the wannabe
politico boasting cunning anticipation.
Those breeding hate from hate
think it makes us great—our swaggering
state of alienation. Shock’s sum,
numb, a wicked calculation. Seriously,
who’s laying out the facts, who’s
holding up a mirror, who’s looking out
for us, other than the spy in my computer?
(I could write an essay on the NSA.)
What’s acceptable except furor?
It’s more than I can bear; there’s blood
coming out of my eyes, my soul, my
wherever. Let’s share the blame. In silence,
compliance. I don’t mean to complain.


Alexandra Haines-Stiles is a graduate of Harvard and Oxford, where she studied twentieth century literature and language as well as creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Mays Anthology, Hanging Loose, Copper Nickel and elsewhere. She lives in New York and London.

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