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State poet reflects on Capitol attack and polarization

Even the state poet had trouble putting it into words.
Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 9:23 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - If last Wednesday’s breach of the U.S. Capitol left you speechless, Nebraska state poet Matt Mason knows how you feel. But even he had a hard time putting that feeling into words.

Mason wrote “The Start,” over the past couple years. On Sunday, the New York Times published his work following the riot in Washington D.C.

“I think it kind of covers the climate that seemed to be developing a couple years ago, and moves toward what happened last week,” Mason said. “I try to write poems that will reach somebody, not just someone with a PhD in literature, I want to reach, you know, the person working at the Kwik Shop.”

Below is “The Start” in its entirety:

“It probably started

in a whisper, a murmur,

a low tone hardly caught by the papers,

a sticker, a poster,

a brick wall with slogans in fresh black paint

because

it probably started with a shove,

some bluster, a gunshot,

crushed fingers, it probably started

with a speech that caught the right ears

on an otherwise happy day,

yellow flowers in a wooden stand on the sidewalk,

red apples, radio

trying hard to smooth out the mood,

kid hurrying past, thinking,

God, is that man on the corner

shouting

about me,

pulls his hat low,

it probably started

with another man

drunk on swagger,

it probably started

with a small crowd

coaxing exciting lies,

it probably started

with a neighborhood’s head bowed

as the drone grows each day

(though they’ll claim

it came

in a quick, monstrous surprise).”

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