There’s no way even to begin.
It is impossible to describe
why these issues are important,
but of his basic decency and fairness and sensitivity
to an audience’s own hopes and fears:
I was, retrospectively, a bit chilled.
These sorts of questions are not new,
but they do have a certain urgency.
The argument goes like this:
Let us, in fact, in our minds and hearts say yes—shout yes—
to that small percentage of American citizens
(and it helps to know where We come from:
the hyper-educated, hard-earned Rural Midwest)
who actually care about the whole
harrowing polymeric discussion.
You have to look honestly at yourself
and at your motives for believing
what you believe, and to do it more or less continually.
This is funny in a dark way, maybe,
but simply appealing to precedent or tradition won’t work—
that should be tattooed on the left wrist
of everyone in the Anglophone world.
And I promise that it becomes
almost excruciatingly clear and relevant below:
bracket your feelings just long enough to recognize
it is that the people who are going to be interested
are also the people who are least going to need it.
Source: “Authority and American Usage.” Consider the Lobster.
ANTHONY J. SAMS is an assistant professor of English at Ivy Tech Community College. His fiction and poetry have appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Rattle, Plain Spoke, McSweeney’s online, and elsewhere. A graduate of Indiana University and the University of North Carolina Wilmington, he lives north of Louisville, Kentucky.