Context for their Budget Requests: A Half Septina for the CDC (Kathrine Varnes)

No one wants to admit he is vulnerable
After those blissful years of entitlement.
At the salad bar, “So much diversity!”—
Before most people had heard the term transgender,
Back when civil rights were a zygote fetus,
And the moon had no flags. What’s wrong with evidence-based?
Would you trust a surgeon who isn’t science-based?

Would you fly a plane that isn’t science-based?
Even Air Force One is vulnerable
To physics, and magic carpets are evidence-based
If you see them. Define entitlement
And liberty. Say where they get the fetus
Imagery for those posters. Diversity
Is more than a buzzword. People are born transgender.

Virginia Woolf’s Orlando was transgender
By divine intervention, not science-based.
Faster than evolution, her diversity
Of man then woman made her vulnerable
Now that she had the goods to carry a fetus.
Every work of fiction is evidence-based,
And sitting down to write it, entitlement.

Entitlement for all! Why should they shun transgender?
Evidence-based funding is good. Science-based
Language like fetus has value. We all feel vulnerable.
What sad, silent-auction price will diversity fetch?

 

Kathrine Varnes is the author of The Paragon and co-editor with Annie Finch of An Exaltation of Forms. She schleps her acting son to NYC for auditions or acting gigs when she is not writing or teaching at FIT.

Inspiration:  Seven words is one too many for a sestina, so I invented the septina and wrote half of one in an effort to reclaim these CDC-quarantined words. What better group to reclaim this ceded rhetorical ground than the unacknowledged legislators of the world?

Welcome to the CDC Poetry Project!

The time has come for all good poetry people to say the unsayable, speak the truth, and spread the word.

On December 15, 2017, as reported in the Washington Post, the Trump Administration gave a directive to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that official documents being prepared for the 2018 budget were not to contain the following words:

  • vulnerable
  • entitlement
  • diversity
  • transgender
  • fetus
  • evidence-based
  • science-based

Starting on December 16, Sarah Freligh and Amy Lemmon invite writers from all walks of life to submit poems in any form that included all seven of these words, preferably in repetition, to CDCpoetry@gmail.com, for publication on the blog. Please note our Submission Guidelines.

Stay tuned for prompts, updates, and poems!

 

DISCLAIMER: This project has no official affiliation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an agency of the United States Government under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The views and opinions expressed in the works published on this site are those of the authors.