Who knew the democratic process
would ever yield such a cartoonish cast?
People steal the stage to be kicked out,
protestors chain themselves together,
the country, the good ship U.S.S. U.S.A.
keeps on ticking like a wind turbine
or an IED in a stranger’s briefcase.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion,
and the scene is complicated by the fact
that the phenomena they comment on
(immigration, global relations, policing police)
are too complex for a single answer.
The test is not two plus two, when
any student submitting three is wrong,
and any submitting four is right.
The phenomena are, it is obvious,
emergent in nature, meaning they manifest as,
and result in, more than the perceptible sum
of their aggregate parts.
Whenever I try to comprehend
emergent phenomena, I hold in my head
a picture of the human brain.
Take a snip of neuron or synapse,
and what you have is an inert component,
fascinating under microscope, but dead.
Add billions of them together,
and somehow, you arrive
at the artistry of a sentient being.
So it is with immigration, or any other
big movement of people and ideas.
The end is not defined by any
of the single steps along the way.
The lunatic who ends in the White House
does not automatically represent
the people who so empowered him or her.
Stephen Michael Antieau graduated from the University of Illinois in 2007. It was a bumpy ride. Now, he is a brilliant dispatcher, a writer and author, a continuing student of history, a musician, an art collector, a heavy reader, a light runner, a feeder of squirrels, and a faithful if somewhat doubtful Chicagoan. His temperament has always been slow-to-warm-up, and that also happens to be an adequate description of his writing career.