Drifting and drifting far from latitudes of kindness,
humanity’s flotillas languish in the doldrums of contempt.
Hulls are breached, the drowning search for salvation
desperate as castaways clinging to the Raft of the Medusa.

Partisan bickering breaks the bonds of fealties,
dignity erased as tribes swerve from left to right
and back again– boats adrift without rudders and anchors.

Civility and empathy opaque as lighthouses in a fog,
spawn wrecks on the shoals, mutiny in the ranks.
Consummate loyalty and purity inflame the great moral divide,
a yawning abyss of bleached coral and thorns,
as contempt’s juggernaut lurches through civilization.

If you ask what is broken, they will say, You, and you will say,
You. Harsh rhetoric scapegoats the disenfranchised.
Opinions eclipse facts and our tectonic plates quake.
Blood libel rears its ugly head, putrid as Buddleia blossoms,
Migrant blood runs in the streets.

The elite will not ask your names
nor the names of your children nor the “whys” of your beliefs–
nothing to them, but ether in a vacuum. Invective litters language
like plastic detritus in the oceans, consensus founders far
from latitudes of kindness.

And yet, and still,
‘though winter’s sun casts its harsh light across the waters,
kindness gestates in humanity’s heart, waits to be born.

Arthur Ginsberg is a neurologist and poet based in Seattle. He has studied poetry at the University of Washington and at Squaw Valley, with Galway Kinnell, Sharon Olds, and Lucille Clifton. Recent work appears in the anthologies, Blood and Bone, and Primary Care, from University of Iowa Press.