September 10 | One Vote | MARY SWANDER

September 10, 2012

One Vote


If I have one vote and it counts, I’ll mark my ballot and drop
it in the box and wish that I could vote for someone–

–anyone—anything– who could think outside that box.
I’ll vote for the table that holds the box, for the wood

that forms the box, for the glue and screws that hold
it together. Yes, mostly in the past, I have voted

for what became wood and screws–rotted and rusted.
So why not make it official? Why not tear away

the curtains in the booth, strip myself of all privacy,
and hang another fabric–tough, strong, not easily torn?

Hang or be hanged. Punched cards and chads, swinging,
dimpled corners and pregnant little pieces of paper.

Let us not fight over their abortions, which portion
Of the whole indentation to honor. Let’s celebrate

The linoleum floor under our feet, the mortar and
Concrete blocks, the grass torn away and tossed aside.

I vote for the subsoil, the dust, the underground,
organic and mineral matter, the dirt that grips the beams.



Mary Swander is the Poet Laureate of Iowa and a
Distinguished Professor at Iowa State University.
Her latest book is Farmscape from Ice Cube Press


One Response to “September 10 | One Vote | MARY SWANDER”

  1. Evie Says:

    Fantastic poem — I couldn’t have said it better myself! Thanks for writing it, Mary Swander, and for soliciting it, Patricia Spears Jones, and for publishing it, Black Earth Institute. And thanks for all the terrific poems thus far this month. I’ve been reading them all with great interest and great appreciation!

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