Spring 2017, Volume 22

Poetry by Catharine Lucas

Like-Minded People

On election night in Berkeley, I fantasized moving to a Red State,
somewhere that needed me as a kind of leavening.
I’d make friends over coffee, disarm the enemy, become trusted;
           think aloud, give events my spin, one by one convert
           the best of them, and they would teach others, and others would—

Even in Berkeley, I can’t persuade my dearest friend to reconsider her ill-
          informed opposition to nuclear energy, our main point of difference.
          Unreconciled, we table the topic: breath eases, pulse slows, belly softens.

My siblings in Texas and South Carolina have agreed: no politics—no more bullish
          arguments, heat behind our eyes, stomachs cramping as we fight to
          change one another’s stubborn minds. None of us is anything but right.
Hate hovers, vulturelike.

I live, by choice, among generally like-minded people. Safe to smile at strangers. We may disagree on organic versus GMOs, charter versus public schools, the death penalty. But we expect to agree on the presidency and who should command the Senate. This much we have in common.

Meanwhile, on sidewalks in Red State towns, it is likewise safe to smile at strangers. Anyone may disagree on venues for Little League games, school hours, even climate change. But most expect to agree on the presidency and who should command the Senate. This much they have in common.

On election night, I wonder if any one of them fantasizes about moving to California—as a sort of leavening. Make converts, save the country. Part of me hopes they’ll stay in their enclaves with like-minded people, as I do.

Another part lies awake. Sad. Angry. A little afraid. So many people who don’t know how wrong they are, who can’t be persuaded to change their stubborn minds. I sense them in the night, awake like me. Sad. Angry. A little afraid.
Hate hovers, vulturelike.

This much we have in common.




BIO: Catharine Lucas' creative writing appears or is forthcoming in Whistling Shade, Willow Review, Zone 3, WomenArts Quarterly, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Cloudbank, The Alembic, North Dakota Quarterly, Digital Paper (University of California, Berkeley), Magazine (San Francisco State University), and Asilomar Poets, 1974-1980 (Equinox Press), Sweet: A Literary Confection, Chaparral Magazine, The Chaffin Journal, Burningword Literary Journal, and The Penmen Review.

Catharine Lucas is professor of English, emeritus, at SFSU and a National Writing Project Teacher Consultant. She has been a featured reader for the Berkeley Poets Salon.