On The Firing Of Dr. Clark Kerr,
President Of The University of California,
As Seen From The Berkeley Campus
"Good riddance to bad rubbish."
-- Mario Savio
Should I crow, say
told you so, thrown
in your own game,
Don't blow my mind
with your newspaper
wonders, I've been there
down under your laureate
to learn to breathe.
It was bad magic
you helped spell
and articulate, in concrete
numbers, numbed us
to answer your own
ice chill, unwilled
and unfelt, efficient,
with all its accomplishments
measured in numbers
and biggers, averted
About your Minerva. We put our selves
on the shelves of her locker,
and entered the lotus trance
of class and classification.
She promised them back as soon
as we left, to greet with delight
and a bit of awkwardness, drape
like discovered winter coats
over finely-tuned four-barrel Vitamine muscles
that would work like an academic's prescription
to carry us charmed through the cold
Out There. She lied, she stole
something while we turned our backs in calisthenics.
In the dark, the connection we had with the world
sublimed, like a fugitive untended hue,
and we shaved facing our mirror names
each morning as if that face were ours.
But sometimes, spun over the rail far out
at sea, from the ship you captain
of doom, we recover, shake off
the drugged weary closure, and find
our other still in touch, remember,
respond, rejoin, rejoyce.
Hey there then Coach, I'm hip
to your style, and know what we lost
when we took your rulebook words
with what they said of play
to define our game's boundaries
of maybe and warmth. Your language
was legal and disciplined, all
you could offer us, proffer, profess,
answered only the questions
you knew how to ask.
So we learned at your heels,
read the inverse terminologies
of hierarchical order, stamped
on our earth like a trademark
or the signature on a decree
seen from below. Under your offices
wanting a word, ranked and attentive
we watched you and your playmates
playing at power in elaborate
silence, recorded pavlovian notes
in our muscles, responded.
And how you did chide us
for our earnest sport, whose shrillness
was metal still flesh
in dimensions of longing
that escaped your control!
So what if those walls
come tumbling down
that still wear your face,
that your sojourn raised with rational grace
and speed, and your exit
leaves unchanged? Will you be
surprised, who laid it out
to our critical student selves
in dispassionate ideology
how "the Knowledge Industry now accounts
for 29% of the G.N.P.,"
how by your most excellent instrument
the Mind is bent benevolent
to service of the State?
That's stark and crude, like the first stains
of our lost and unseen blood
now turned visible
on the steps of your Multiversity,
which will call us back
for another lesson, in that place
where we learned to spell our minds
are not property, and shook the State
whose backlash sweeps you on.
There was nothing personal,
as you would be the first to admit,
leaving us with our lives. Goodbye.