Two poems

The Nations: 1

These people, as we know, admire music.
Their composers are required to drink coffee,
Chase each other's wives, turn fairy tales to operas,
And provide the world with cliches.
These folk are renowned for spending all their lives just thinking.
Once, they worshipped spirits of the forests.
Now they keep the trees in line.
Keep in mind the differences in gender in their speech:
The child and house are neuter,
And the body, like the moon, is always male.
Houses, schools and factories have been built
So that each detail is historically correct.
In the House of Art you will see things you've only heard of:
Fat and rabbits, huge carved teddy bears, dead princesses,
Attempts to keep the paint inside the lines by young Americans,
And photographs of parts of men and women from the inside looking out.
The catalogues are beautiful and tell you how to see.
Gallery custodians are trained to know, by glancing,
Where each visitor is from, and not to laugh.
If the town you seek is not depicted on the latest map
From ADAC, you can view the open-cut mine
On the site where it once stood.
Language is no hindrance to a good time.
If in doubt, attempt to smile.

The Nations: 3

Apology is next to apoplectic in their word-book,
Where the language loses weight and disappears.
They say 'No problem', as their border shrinks each year.
They once had open spaces but it's privacy they fear.
These people understand that history's dead,
They travel, though there's nothing left to see:
They photograph it, show it to their friends,
Who wonder how the people live.
Their time is money, never past. They worship chance.
Every time they sing, a man jumps in a creek and drowns.
The police inspect the site, but no one dies where no one lived
Before the word 'before' was banned.
In school they learn that learning can be bought:
They can't pay too much for the news.
Nothing has a shape outside their cities, where the young
Stay young forever, gaining weight while words grow thin.