Punishment is Love by Jennifer Lagier

I ache for the touch of your lips, dear,
But much more for the touch of your whips, dear.
You can raise welts
Like nobody else,
As we dance to the masochism tango.”

–Tom Lehrer, The Masochism Tango


America, each day you seduce,

promise happy-ever-after,

deliver sadistic cruelty.

Debase human decency.

Pillage the poor.

Give to the rich.

Humiliate, torture,

tell the gullible powerless

this is tough love.


A masochistic electorate

clings to its fictions,

gladly relinquishes control,

surrenders liberty, will.

Passively offers itself

to corrupt dominants who

overpower, abuse.

The broken beg

for brutal punishment,

unending pain.

Nothing is their fault.

They ecstatically bleed.


Jennifer Lagier has published thirteen books, taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium readings. Newest books: Scene of the Crime (Evening Street Press), Harbingers (Blue Light Press), Camille Abroad (FutureCycle Press). Forthcoming: Like a B Movie(FutureCycle Press, 2018). Website: jlagier.net Facebook: www.facebook.com/JenniferLagier/

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