Voice Of America

You heard our propaganda,

Now you visit us and see:

We keep lists, too, like

The KGB. Your name is in

The computer and the offer Is in the mail with free Coupons. Eat your fill! You'll grow fat on freedom, So we'll sell you fat-free Entrees while you exercise Free speech, singing new Anthems with your Sony.

The poem tries to work a metaphor, but beyond that, relies solely on message to discuss an agenda: our economic addictions. Thus, the poem is mediocre. It preaches to the converted, like patriotic poetry often does. In general, a good political poem should contain as many images as a typical nature poem. It should move us emotionally as the best love lyrics do, emphasizing song, and challenge or stimulate us with its aesthetics (or style).

Here's a rewrite of that poem containing more images and using more emotionally charged words, to enhance message:

VOICE OF AMERICA This is a plea to preserve the word Free. Synonym of liberty When you let it loll off the tongue, Milk and honey on the other side of The Atlantic. Come visit us, see Cereal boxes with trinkets inside, Sort our sacks of junk mail Generated by the same traitorous Chip of KGB silicon. We have lists Too. Soon your name will appear on Embossed letterhead of informants Bearing gifts of fine plastic: Freel You'll grow fat on freedom As a boar on feed before the slaughter. So we'll sell you a slew of fat-Free items, aisles of ware and woe, Lines as short as lifespans. You'll exercise free speech, Learn the language of double meaning, Misspell the ad word "lite." In time, Dictionaries will prove you right. Then you will master the oxymoron Free with proof of purchase and sing

Our anthem by flickerlight of Sony, Remembering the rocket's red glare.

The work reads more like a poem now instead of a piece of propaganda. The result may be that more people will listen, even those who would debate its politics.

"The thing to bear in mind when writing any kind of political or sociopolitical poetry," says Hilary Tham, "is to focus on the personal, the felt experience, or the poem quickly becomes demagogic and unpo-etic."

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