Patty We Hardly Knew Ya

So they took you from your lover’s home — Steven
who treated you like a child & later wrote memoirs
& told them to take anything, but to leave him alone
& they took you.
& they locked you in a closet & used you
for a media campaign to feed the hungry.
You had never known hunger or privation.
You were a princess of the ruling class.
But you had known loneliness.
You learned, finally,
away from your university walls, about revolution.
They called you Tania & plastered your picture on
front page reports & post office billboards &
the Six O’clock News.
Your father wasn’t the only Hearst
who could make the papers.
You became a phenomenon. You became a star.
And the question on everyone’s lips was:
“Where is Patty Hearst?”
& some were arrested & some were destroyed & the LA siege
was just one of many brutal episodes in a bloody war movie, but you were a star.
& all the “little people” — the housewives & the students & the laborers of the
working class took you as their own & discussed your motives & some
applauded you & some said you deserved to be spanked & some said you were
just a pawn, but pawn or queen, you were a star — a media heroine
& no one could ignore you as they had
ignored your wealthy and powerful family.
Month after month you led the headlines.
The FBI was embarrassed
by false leads on your whereabouts.
All those trained bloodhounds searching for one
little girl playing revolutionary.
It could have been made in Hollywood,
But never in CUBA or CHINA or Viet-Nam.
You were so bold, standing in your beret & rifle
in front of the SLA trademark
(and we still may wonder on the significance of
“Symbionese”)
Robbing banks in the tradition of Dunaway and Beatty
— a whirlwind crime spree
to the glory of the “people.”
What did you know of the “people?”
Those who cheered for the circus & those who
condemned you at their mid-morning coffee breaks.
Yes, now you belonged to them —
no longer the sheltered heiress.
So they found you, the pigs, really quite by accident
(the whole investigation being a gaily colored comedy of
errors)
& brought you to “justice.”
& Justice took its time-honored time drawing out the headlines —
arraignment through appeals & exposes
(“New Times features Bill & Emily Harris:
at home with the fugitives”)
And when they asked you for your profession on the
official forms you ingenuously proclaimed to be
“an unemployed Urban Guerrilla,” which is certainly as valid
as an unemployed newspaper heiress.
And Squeaky Fromm tried to shoot the President,
but you were still America’s sweetheart —
poor little rich girl gone guerrilla.
But then you were reprogrammed and reneged on your revolutionary ways.
You cried for joy on being reunited with your “capitalist pig” parents &
the family dog —
Just like any Long Island JAP or Sacramento
newspaper heiress back from her hippie jaunt.
And they locked you in your “country club jail”
like they send a naughty child to her room —
“just to teach her a lesson.”
And still the interviewers came
to continue the media comedy.
What fun you had with your “Pardon Me” teeshirt
& your jailhouse romance with your guard.
(And Jerry Ford, who Squeaky tried to shoot, had
pardoned Trickie Dick. And Susan Ford, the First Daughter,
married her Secret Service guard.
And it was the era of Post-Watergate when nothing could be too
absurd for a world weary public worn out by the Stagflation Wars)
And Waffling Jimmy Earl of the Georgia Peanut Dynasty
was in the Whitehouse.
And China was finally invading Viet-Nam
And a fast-talking Orkian
was the rage of prime time.
And discomania mixed liberally with coke and ‘ludes
had taken over Amerikkka’s youthful zeal.
And Werner Erhard replaced Che Guevara in
ex-Yippie Jerry Rubin’s heart & so the wheel turns.
& five years after the kidnapping,
Patty Hearst finally went home.

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