Strawman Shaman

A shaman prayed over a flimsy straw doll
and wrote words on a piece of paper so as to bind
to it the woes of a woman who felt powerless, small,
and who wished to rectify all the wrongs in her mind.

The shaman said, “All of your problems are now here,
invested into this fetish that you must now take
and burn until nothing remains for you to fear.”
The woman took the doll and gave it a shake.

“I do not fear you, evil thing,” the woman swore.
“You are the Patriarchy, and you will lose.”
She laughed hatefully. “You will not exist anymore
because I can destroy you now, as I so choose.”

She then cast the paper and the doll inside the fire
and smiled as both burned away to ashen nothing,
thinking it good that the boogeyman should expire
so easily, as if a thing made of chaff stuffing.

When others heard of her story, they came to the shaman,
each hoping he could defeat his or her own evil spirit
by investing all of their evil spirits into a strawman
and burning the fetish so as to never again fear it.

Some asked that he burn away parasitic communism,
and some asked for debt-capitalism and cash,
some the GOP, and the Democrats, the whole prism
of ideology burned, inside the dolls, to ash.

Each person went away, thoroughly pleased
to think their world had somehow been bettered,
and all the while nothing they hated truly ceased
because of the words that had been lettered.

And so, in time, they found themselves fooled,
realizing that nothing had ever really changed
since the angry flames had been overruled—
their superstitious endowments deranged.

They confronted the shaman, all of them enraged
for having been fooled by a thief and a liar
and, for his crimes, they had him bound and caged,
wanting to punish him for preying upon desire.

“You blame me for your problems,” he laughed
while they all shouted at him in his cage,
“but you are the ones who are truly daft
if you think problems are only words upon a page!”

They whined: “How can we solve our problems, then?”
The shaman grinned and said, “It is so very simple.
Release me and I will show you how, my children.
Just come with me into my strawman’s temple.”

They released him, hesitantly, and followed him thereto—
to a great fire pit in an ancient ziggurat
where he stoked the flames to burn all ills heir to
humans upon a great blaze that flared bright and hot.

“You all want easy answers,” the shaman said.
“And simple evils needing simple solutions. Very well—
Life is the problem, by god, so, until you are dead
you will always be living a constant Hell.”

This said, he leapt down into the roaring flames
and all of his problems went up in easy smoke—
but his followers baulked at his bold claims,
still wanting to believe he misspoke.

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