My poem, "Missing," is up at Qarrtsiluni. I must warn you, though, it's sad; when I read it out loud for the purposes of recording it, the sadness in the last stanza almost left me breathless. Go here to read it (or to hear me read it).
I chose the title to make an allusion to the 1982 movie by the same name, a movie which continues to haunt me. I first watched it as a politically naive teenager. We wanted to see the movie Making Love, but it was R rated and the movie theatres in Knoxville, Tennessee were very committed to making sure that underage children didn't see R rated movies without an adult along. No matter how much I wanted to see the homosexual love scenes in Making Love, I didn't want to see them sitting beside my parents.
So we went to see Missing, which we'd never heard of, but it started at the same time as the movie we'd been hoping to see. I still find it rather humorous that the city Fathers of Knoxville were so concerned with morality that I couldn’t see a rather frivolous movie about a woman who loses her husband to his homosexual yearnings, but I was allowed to see a much more incendiary movie about good governments gone terribly awry, a movie that would change forever the way I viewed power and my leaders and my country. I’m grateful, no doubt about it, but I think the whole incident serves as an example of essential Americana. We’re deeply concerned about sex, to the point of strange obsessiveness, but we’ll let children see any kind of violence their heart desires. And it never occurs to us that a political message might carry such a jolt that youngsters should be protected (or at least provided with an adult to help them sort through the issues). Yet I’m not arguing for more censorship. I’m glad the scales were ripped from my eyes. But I am amused at the issues we choose as essential to keep from our children and teens. Amused and concerned. And baffled that some folks, even after thirty years of shocking allegations of our government’s unsavory actions, can deny this knowledge. And I continue to be horrified that our government, even after all these cautionary tales, like the one the movie documents, will still choose constructive engagement for the sake of capitalism, even if more fundamental issues, like democracy, must be sacrificed.
My poem doesn't tackle those kind of weighty issues exactly, so perhaps the allusion to the movie will prove to be a bad choice. But my poem does question what we're sacrificing for the sake of our financial well being in a similar way that the movie asks what we're sacrificing in the name of our dedication to democracy and capitalism.
See the movie. Read the poem. Let me know what you think.
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