Where Tyranny is
there's Tyranny,
not only where the rifle gapes,
not only behind prison gates,

where interrogations are answered,
not only in the night guard's
wildly shouted words
is Tyranny heard,

not only in the smoky speech
of billowing accusations, or each
tapped-out in Morse confession
on the walls of the prison,

not only in the judge's chilled
verdict of guilt,
there's Tyranny
not only in the military

"Atten-shun!ˆ" barked out,
"Fire!", in the drum beats
and the corpse pitched
into the ditch,

not only the hush-
hush rumors which
are whispered in terror
through a half-open door,

the finger shot in a flash
to the lips, Don't move, "Shush!",
where Tyranny is,
there's Tyranny,

not only in the hard
faces, like iron-barred
windows, screams heard
behind the gate in the yard,

in the mute cascade
of tears that fade
into silence
as the pupils widen,

it's in the sound of a quiet
automobile you hear glide
to a stop at night outside,
in front of the gate;

when you hear, behind your "Hello"
on the phone, what you feel
is an alien ear, paying
attention to what you're saying;

not only the telephone lines
like Laocoön's snakes entwine you:
trains, airplanes, paired rails,
snare's knot, rope coils,

because Tyranny's allowed
not just in the packed crowd's
"Long live our leader!" chorusing
hurrahs as they sing,

in the world-without-end
clapping of hands
in the opera house,
among the horns,

on the street corner,
in that uproar, or
the stiffeningly grim
statue of him,

and there in the cheerlessly
bright-colored art gallery,
in each frame separately,
inside each brush already;

because Tyranny is there
in the centers for day-care,
in the wise words of a father,
in the smile of a mother,

in the way that a child can
babble to a strange man,
in the way you look over your shoulder
before you whisper,

not only in the barbed wire border,
not only in the books' words in order
which bind with more mind-numbing cords
than even the fence's barbs;

there it is
in the goodbye kiss,
in the way the spouse says, "Dear,
when will you be back here?"--

in the casual way you greet
acquaintances in the street,
"How are you?"--the suddenly soft
handshake that breaks off,

in the way your lover's face
all at once freezes in place,
because it is at its station
there in your assignation,

not only in the third degrees,
it's there as you confess,
in the sweet talk that you pass,
like a dead fly in your glass,

because even in your dream
you're not alone to scheme,
it's there in the bridal bed
to which desire has led,

because you think beautiful
what it's already filled full;
you lie down with it beside
what you thought love could hide,

on the plate and in the glasses,
through your nose and mouth it passes,
in the daylight, or dark as the tomb,
outdoors and in your room,

as if the window were open
and the corpse stench billowed in,
as if there were a break
in the gas-line and a leak,

if you're talking with yourself,
it's Tyranny asks and tells,
even in your imagining
you're not on your own to sing,

the Milky Way's not safe,
a border zone, where light strafes
a minefield; the spy can look through
a star, too,

the teeming celestial tent
is one labor internment,
since it's Tyranny that tolls,
in fever and pealing bells,

from the priest who takes your confessions,
from the sermon lessons:
church, parliament, and rack
all stage-sets, stored and stacked;

open or close your lashes,
on you Its look flashes;
like sickness or injury,
it clings, like memory,

Its train wheels--do you hear?
you're a prisoner--clack your fear;
over mountains, beside a lake,
Its are the breaths you take;

the lightning sizzles, It's there
in every out-of-nowhere
noise, in the light's arc,
in the skipped beat of your heart;

in your repose It crackles,
in the boredom of your shackles,
in the downpour of a squall,
in the bars arching over all,

you are locked in by snowfall
as white as the cell wall;
It looks at you sidewise
through your own dog's eyes,

and because in joys or sorrows
It's there, in your tomorrows,
in every single thought
and gesture, there you're caught;

like water in its course,
you follow It and It's yours;
you peek out and Its glance
from your mirror looks askance,

It lurks: useless to run,
you are captive and guard in one;
It soaks into your tobacco's
aroma, the stuff of your clothes

and eats Its way right through
to the marrow in your bones;
you'd protest, but wrenching your thought
away from It, still you're caught,

you would look, but you only see
what It allows to appear to be,
and already the forest fire's thick,
flares from a single matchstick,

because when you tossed it down
you failed to stamp the ground;
so by now it's after you
in the factory, meadow, chez vous;

and what life is, you no longer care,
nor what meat and bread are,
what it is to love, to desire,
to spread your arms wider, higher;

this is how the slave can shackle
himself with his gear and tackle;
when you eat, It is the one
you feed, for whom you beget your son;

where Tyranny can remain,
everyone's a link in Its chain;
Its stink streams out from you, too,
Tyranny, it is you;

for it's due to you that the child
has sullenly rebelled,
and your wife, swaying in your
lap, becomes a whore;

like moles blinking in sunshine,
we walk in darkness, blind,
and restless, run to the Law
which might as well be the Sahara;

because where there's Tyranny,
all things are Vanity,
this song, true though it be,
all sorts of artistry,

because It is standing there
at your grave, alive, which is where
It tells us who you were,
and your dust says what you are.