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‘Levelling Song’

I am the new crow laureate of the empire state,
perched on a cushion at the right hand of the governor,
by his appointment, a bard-bird of sorts;
diamonds sparkling in my claws, I wear
a ruby crown, and sing a song so strong
it rivals Niagara’s electrifying roar, saving
millions for Albany; I sing a song so strong
it wafts over the great cities, startling
gangs to a hand-shaking halt—but first, I need
to sing the leveling song: people, you are broke.
You believed in bubbles, the effervescence
of greed. You believed the sly worm that whispered,
I turn brass to gold; now you’ve all been made
to eat gristle, and the Shogun of Human Resources
has requested your swords. The wind now blows
in your faces, the sun now shines in your eyes.
Reading your quarterly statements, sure that soon
machineries of algorithms sweeping the data clouds
will replace you, sure you will soon shiver
in caves on the Canadian border, bankrupt,
holding flashlights over your old Scout manuals,
sure you will soon regret your stubborn refusal
to study Mandarin when you had the chance,
you rue your ridicule of AM radio pundits
who proclaimed the advent of the apocalypse,
promoted the hoarding of freeze-dried survival rations,
recipes for do-it-yourself Novocain —listen up:
it is time for you to borrow flintlock blunderbusses
from the Fort Ticonderoga Museum, blast
all the stupid into the sky with explosive wisdom;
time to borrow the three star belt of Orion,
and leave your hesitation as collateral;
time to whistle up for your wind ponies,
time to mount them and ride into the valley,
where you can lie, face up to the sky,
for a year and a day in brown grass and stalks,
and then rise, shouting Ah-Ah-Ah,
primordial mantra of fearlessness, and sing,
The old order of things has passed away,
just as old John of Patmos sang,
naked in the sea breeze and shivering, dancing
on bare rock, flipping the bird at Rome.


We’re always intrigued by the international perspectives our online courses bring to light, so it’s a pleasure to publish a new poem by New York student Lisa Bellamy, generated on our Extreme Poetry course. Lisa, who is a teacher at The Writer’s Studio, was the winner of the 2011 Encircle Publications chapbook prize; you can read other examples of her work here and here. On her current writing practise, Lisa says that she is, ‘finding that a lyrical and forthcoming tone and persona help me more than a compressed or terse approach. Most recently, I have been absorbing techniques from Cathy Park Hong, David Wojahn, Amy Newman, Eduardo Corral and Cynthia Huntington’.

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Image credit: Justin Norman