WEEDS . . . Metaphors . . . WARS

POETRY FORMAT, 29 Sep 2014

Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service


I speak here of weeds growing across our land,
Wild, uninvited, unwelcome, festering!
I speak here of weeds inhabiting gardens and lawns,
Growing amidst driveways, sidewalks, curb cracks.
I speak here of weeds flourishing, thriving, resisting extinction.
I speak here of weeds challenging human presence,
Marring efforts after perfection:
Enemies to be destroyed,
Soaked with sprays,
Drenched with toxic mists,
Until yellowed and wilted in the sun!


I speak here of weeds mocking beatific visions:
Blemishes to perfection,
Sullied lawns, plants, fields,
Flaws in uniform green vistas.
Endless foes of varying color and shape.


Churchill’s words adopted for the struggle:
“We will fight them in our yards,
In our gardens,
In our lawns,
This is not the end,
No, it is the beginning of the end.”

It is a war against a worthy foe,
A war we can win!
Ahhh, if only there was a jingo,
An anthem to strengthen resolve?

The list prepared:
Garden gloves, powders, masks,
Chemical sprays — buy only “New and Improved!” brands.
Commercials recalled:
Happy . . . beautiful . . . perfect people . . .
Laughing as they direct streams of “letter, number, symbol fluids,”
Inviting you to share their pleasure,
Words spoken with sincere insincerity,
Southern accent, to soften message:

“Don’t you just detest those weeds?
I use “X-out!” . . . the moment weeds appear.
If you leave them overnight, they multiply.
Buy — X-OUT!

The name comforts,
Instills confidence!
Hundreds of blue plastic bottles,
A colorful display!
A mythic moment!
Grip the bottle.
Hold it!
A good fit!


In the checkout line,
Customers share words,
Content with their decisions!
A poet disturbs certainty with virtuous words:

“A weed is a flower whose virtues have yet to be discovered.”
He pays and leaves humming an old folk song:
“Where have all the flowers gone,
                            Long time passing ….”

Glares, stares, murmurs, contempt, frowns abound:

“Sounds like a new-age minister!”
“This isn’t his choir!”
A collective litany begins – group think:
“Weeds are pests — like insects, rodents, spiders, varmints.
Kill’em all.
This here stuff is new,
Just out!
Saw it on TV.”
“I’ll tell you how I kill those SOBs:
Just go out there and stare them down,
Talk to them,
Tell them you remember them from last year.”
“The more complex the chemical names,
         On the package, the more I am likely to buy it.
I want a lawn without crabgrass, milkweed, dandelions.
Just perfect Bermuda green,
Like our golf course.
That makes a man’s Spring and Summer.”
“You know, you have to apply the killers in the winter
To be prepared for the spring.
They grow even in the cold.
There’s no end to their presence.”
“Where I live,
“Our Neighborhood Board
Requires us lawn-free of weeds.”
          One of the Board Members owns a lawn service.”
“I say a little prayer. It always works:”
“Caste them away from us,
Free us from their evil spectacle,
Strengthen our struggle.
Gird our loins.
We ask this in thy name.
In mock execution,
A hero aims a plastic bottle,
          “Gotcha! Take that you . . .


There is no remorse in killing weeds,
No guilt, no shame, no regret.
Shared targets for inner rage,
Without them,
Who would we curse,
Who would we eradicate?

Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D
© Alpharetta, Georgia 30022
Monday, July 16, 2012, 5:46 PM
Friday, September 26, 2014, 12:49 PM

Comment: I wrote this poem as thoughts about widespread violence continued to occupy my mind. Violent crimes are commonplace. Wars pandemic! The “weed” metaphor came to mind. Competition and struggle have crept into so many aspects of our lives – entertainment, education, marriages, business, government. Violence thrives amidst struggles! So many struggles in daily life we ignore or do not consider. Weeds? Just another foe!

Anthony Marsella, Ph.D., a member of the TRANSCEND Network, is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii, and past director of the World Health Organization Psychiatric Research Center in Honolulu. He is known nationally and internationally as a pioneer figure in the study of culture and psychopathology who challenged the ethnocentrism and racial biases of many assumptions, theories, and practices in psychology and psychiatry. In more recent years, he has been writing and lecturing on peace and social justice. He has published 15 edited books, and more than 250 articles, chapters, book reviews, and popular pieces. He can be reached at marsella@hawaii.edu.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 29 Sep 2014.

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