THE WORLD SITUATION
by Karren LaLonde Alenier
As the wife fed her cat crab-
meat, the cat that attempted
to walk the ceiling but failed,
the husband tackled the decline
of American civilization—barbarians
populated his tales. If a man cried
out, another lopped off his tongue.
In private, she said TV and
McCarthyism killed the invention
of new games. He just ripped
the caterwauling telephone
from the wall.
At a dinner party of all
women except for him, when she
was asked to comment on the world
situation, she excused herself, left
what was tasty and steaming
on the table, curled regally
on a divan like a feline, fell
asleep under an open
With its slow white
flakes, snow covered her. Horrified
at her absence, weren’t these women
her friends, he shook her awake—
what game is this? She whispered,
Resistance To Doom. I had to
make room for hope.
Now that the United States has a president intent on
deconstructing democracy as we have known it, the Steiny Road Poet is learning how to resist and what action to take. First,
however, she wants to make note that most people would rather avoid problems that seem too big to address.
The poem above is from Steiny’s most recent book The Anima of Paul Bowles. In this poem “The World Situation,” Jane and Paul
Bowles go to a dinner party in 1950 as the Korean War begins. It is about five years after World War II has ended. Paul has already published his brutal novel The Sheltering Sky and his
short story collection The Delicate Prey and Other Stories. Congressional conservatives, led by Wisconsin Senator Joseph
MCCarthy, are dismantling free speech and black listing American citizens for being spies and Communists. It is the time of the Cold War. Jane, always the gamester, refuses to
participate in a bleak conversation about war.
February 8 through 11, 2017, Steiny attended the AWP
Conference and Book Fair in Washington, DC. While many of the 12,000 conferees wore buttons reading RESIST, wrote postcards
to their congress representatives, marched on congressional offices, or stood vigil outside the White House the final evening
of the conference, there were those who professed to be bored with politics.
What did Gertrude Stein do during World War II? She moved to
her country home in Southern France and planted a garden. She thought she would be free from the politics of war there. And so
she was for a couple of years, in that area of France then known as the free zone. Eventually, Stein realized she had to resist or
die. So she supported the youths hiding in the hills who refused to be conscripted by the German army and these renegades blew
up Nazi supply routes, which helped the Allies in part to liberate southern France.
Because Steiny grew up in the shadow of The Diary of Anne Frank, where a teenage girl was locked into a hidden apartment
of an office building that formerly belonged to her father’s business holdings, Steiny always averred she would not sit idly
by while an evil element of organized government was threatening to exterminate her, family members, and other people like her.
Yet it is not enough to merely resist, such as attending an
occasional protest demonstration like the record-breaking Women’s March on Washington that occurred the next day after
the 2017 inauguration. People must educate themselves. People who want to save American democracy must deeply read the
United States Constitution. People must join a group of like-minded but hopefully more knowledgeable people to work on
such projects that deal with voting rights and gerrymandering. Steiny hopes to eliminate gerrymandering in the nearby state of Virginia.
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment
before starting to improve the world.”
― Anne Frank, Anne Frank's Tales from the Secret Annex
Yes, those of us who are despairing about what to do must rebuild hope.
“Where there's hope, there's life. It fills us with fresh courage
and makes us strong again.”
― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
However, we cannot take what is happening lying down. We must stand ready to act.
by Gertrude Stein
Once in English they said America. Was it English to them.
Once they said Belgian.
We like a fog.
Do you for weather.
Are we brave.
Are we true.
Have we the national colour.
Can we stand ditches.
Can we mean well.
Do we talk together.
Have we red cross.
A great many people speak of feet.