Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Stevenson At The UN*

[Enter U.S. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson, Soviet Ambassador V.A. Zorin, other ambassadors, translators and officials.]

STEVENSON
I have with me ample evidence.
It is incontrovertible and it's clear.
Soviet missiles now lie in Cuba.
Let me say something else: those weapons must
not remain on that neighboring island.
You, the Soviet Union, placed missiles
in Cuba. You, the Soviet Union
conjured this danger, not the United States.
Finally, Mr. Zorin, remember
that the other day you did not deny
the existence of these dreadful weapons.
Today, if I heard you right, you deny
these missiles exist... and our evidence.
  Alright, sir, let me ask you one question.
Do you, Ambassador Zorin, deny
that the Soviet Union is placing
medium- and intermediate- range
nuclear missiles and sites in Cuba?
Don't wait for the translation. Yes or no?

[Laughter in the assembly.]

ZORIN
I am not an American on trial,
sir, and I will not answer questions
put to me from a prosecutor.
In due course, sir, you will have your answer.

STEVENSON
You stand in the court of world opinion,
so answer yes or now as if on oath.
You have denied that the missiles exist.
Have I got your testimony correct?

ZORIN
Go on. In due course the answer will come.

STEVENSON
I am prepared to wait for my answer
until hell freezes over if you will.
I can also present my evidence.

[Reveals photos of missiles. Assembly stirs.]

This short piece won't make the cut for the final "Cuban" project, but it demonstrates the form for what I'm calling the dramatic parts of the final product. Other parts will appear as fairly normal contemporary lyric poetry. This terse portrayal of a famous exchange during the Cuban Missile Crisis relies a little too much on direct quote, but it also provides a taste of the artificial flavor it will have, being written mostly in ten-count syllabics.

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