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For a Freshman Reader

(After the German of Hans Magnus Enzensberger)

Don’t bother with odes, my son.
Timetables are more precise.

Currents are changing. Unroll
The seacharts. Watch it, don’t sing.

The day will come when once more
Lists will be nailed to the door

And numbers stamped on the chest
Of anyone who says No.

Learn to be anonymous,
Learn more than I did: to change

Your identification.
Your address, your appearance.

Encyclicals make good fires,
Manifestos are handy

For wrapping up the butter
And salt given to victims.

It will take more than anger,
It will take patience to force

The lungs of authority
With the fine deadly powder

Ground by those with the know-how,
The precisionists, like you.

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