Weekend Poetry: Three Poems by Kyle Heger

The Optimism of the Nihilists
 
Did the nihilists ala Bakunin really
believe that once the social order
was destroyed a better system would
take its place? Where did they get
the optimism to think human nature 
had anything better to offer? It is 
difficult not to be touched by such
naiveté.
 
Sympathy Note to the Socialist International
 
You have my sympathy. All that 
solidarity and suffering, all those 
high hopes and mistakes, all that 
destruction and building and planning, 
all that loyalty and betrayal, and all 
those endless meetings wasted. How 
were you to know until the experiment 
had failed so often that the world, 
the species, wasn’t worth the trouble 
of so noble a dream?
 
 
Siding with the Philistines
 
I’ve worn my voting finger to the 
bone funding grade-school classes 
in music, drama and visual arts, 
believing that education must go 
beyond “the three Rs” if people 
are to lead happy, fulfilling and 
productive lives. But suddenly,
years of hearing my two oldest 
sons complain about what 
happened in their “enrichment” 
programs have combined with 
memories of how my own early 
impulse toward the arts barely 
survived nine years of ham-fisted 
instruction, leading to a belated 
Epiphany. So now, as my youngest 
child is poised to enter the same
gauntlet of classes in which 
maintaining compliance and
force-feeding curriculum are more
important than nurturing students’
nascent esthetic senses, I have 
surprised myself by contemplating 
the possibility of striking a strategic 
alliance with the Philistines and 
voting against school money for 
“The Arts,” steeling myself to the 
task in much the same way that 
anarchists swallowed their 
indignation to make common 
cause with Social Democrats 
in order to defeat Franco in the 
Spanish Civil War and China’s 
Communists forced themselves
into cooperating with the Kuomintang 
to fight off Japanese invaders during 
World War Two.

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