The Proud Boys

Hipster brigade

with the sideburn fade.

NRA lite

joking/not joking alt Right,

passive-aggressive simps

pretending to be chauvinistic chimps,

throwing poo

into the milieu

for a troll-lol-lol —

each a petty asshole.

Gavin McInnis, the founder,

likes a big rear-pounder,

taking a dildo up the downside

of his brown-slide,

on live tv

to prove he

is a man ’s man,

a bro-stan

of Ayn Rand,

conflating his own hand

with gov overreach

up the breech.

And by this token

and that token

and that token

they think the Woken

are thus broken,

but useful idiots

are also vidiots —

technicolor fools

over which the new rules

of tribalism

and bible schism

are isms themselves,

sprawling across untidy shelves

and crowned in tinfoil hats,

contentious with so many @s.

Guns, god, and glory,

or so goes the story

they tell themselves at night

in their monitor light,

but the keyboard alt-right-shift

and the libertarian thrift

only go so far,

like a shooting star,

and so they tweet and greet,

meet down the street

in Cabela ’s gear

like a Camo steer,

pretend-soldier boys

with compensating toys,

assault rifles held tight

in case there is a fight

from their instigating,

screaming, “Race-baiting! ”

as they take aim

like that movie by the name,

“Falling Down ”,

but looking like a clown.

No, mother is not proud

of sons overly loud

as they grandstand

in their KKK-Pop boy band.

Real men don ’t whine

at their own punchline,

and pwning themselves just so

no one else can have a go

is like a skit full of snark

from the creators of South Park.

And this “jk ” defense

doesn ’t make any sense.

They are wired

and, some, Trump-inspired,

meming meaning into their days

in a Red Bull-and-bullshit haze,

playing at PR on youtube,

five rubles a newb,

in the comments section

with little self-reflection

while badmouthing Joe

on his Rogaine show

for doing his own thing

because they are Alex Jonesing

while hunkering down

and bunkering down

in a cyber stronghold —

for fuck ’s sake, their shit ’s getting old

The Modern Oz

The modern Tin Man is fueled by

snake oil,

having given away freely his

heart

for an Amazon discount

and a podcast peacemaker of

conspiracy theories.

The Scarecrow has lost his brain

in a broken trade deal,

having pawned it off to pay for

tariffs

while he stuffs the breadbasket with

soybeans,

laying down,

at long last, beneath his

thresher

to return to a simpler time.

The Cowardly Lion roars

with hashtags on Twitter,

Instagramming a fierce photo

while, between posts, shuddering

in the dark of his

lock-down apartment.

The Wizard sits on a

golden toilet

behind the puppeteer curtain,

vociferating loudly

like an orange talking head

to distract from the sounds he makes as he

drops another turd in the swampy toilet bowl,

refusing to flush it.

Dorothy, meanwhile, has been picking fights

with the little people,

accusing them of being

illegal immigrants

while she ignores the tornado of

historical currents

that had brought her to this golden city

upon a hill.

And the

Wicked Witch of the West

sips Tea Party tea,

caterwauling as her flying monkeys busily

troll online,

copy/pasting disinformation for

a ruble a post.

And poor Toto is nothing but

roadkill

splattered along the Yellow Brick Road.

(Non bene pro Toto libertas venditur auro).

Titty-Babies

Eagerly they suck the snake oil
as if it is their mother’s milk,
frenzied and fearful it might spoil—
the conman thus nurtures his ilk.
Gaunt to the point of starvation,
they shake their rattles of unrest,
withered heartland of a nation
and still they suckle at his breast.

Green Star

The green star still shone in the sky as Greg walked out into the parking lot that sprawled emptily in front of the Bocacubrir Industries office building.  His black Charger was the only car illuminated by the lightposts gridded out among the parking spaces, other than the vehicles belonging to Security, the latter huddled near the Security office.

Greg stared at the green star for a while.  Even with the crescent moon overhead the green star dominated his attention with its strange green corona.  It was a color he associated with green slime that he played with when he was a kid —green slime he made with the Mad Scientist lab set he had received for his eighth birthday.  Now he was a numbers man, an accountant, and in his eyes floated all of the numbers for that quarter which he had been crunching in voluntary overtime that evening, while everyone else went home to celebrate the weekend.

Greg would be going home soon, too.  He unlocked his car door, loosened his tie, and swung himself into the Charger with a great sigh of relief.  He set his cell phone in the passenger seat and started his car.  Rain had fallen earlier that day, before sunset, and now a mist rose into the muggy July night.  Greg lit his high beams and started to leave.  Then he stopped.  With a disgruntled growl he removed his N95 mask that was hanging uselessly from his rearview mirror.  It was always in his way.  He had been meaning to throw it away.

The mask now beside his cell phone, he drove toward home.

It was official Bocacobrir policy that everyone wear a mask while at work.  Yet, no one enforced it.  At first everyone obliged.  Then, gradually, one person stopped wearing his, and then another stopped wearing his.  And then another stopped wearing hers, and another stopped wearing hers also.  Now only Security wore their masks, and everyone pretty much disrespected them for it.  Greg heard the other guys in the office crack jokes about the “Rent-a-Cops ” and laugh.  It was a commonplace and everyday pastime.

The highway toward home was dark and foggy.  Mist from the evaporating rain and fog from the river made the dark night seem like a groggy dream.  Or perhaps it was Greg ’s grogginess that made it so.  He had been suffering from fatigue lately, and breathlessness.  Regardless, the green star shone clear through the fog, even while the moon dissolved in it like a skull in a witch ’s cauldron.  It was as if the green star was not among the stars at all, but was closer to the earth than the moon itself.

Greg ’s cell phone rang.

“Hello? ” he answered.

“Hey, Greggy-poo! ” Alison chimed.   “You coming to the bar or not? ”

“Or not, ” Greg said.   “I ’m feeling pretty tired. ”

“Oh poo on you, Greggy-poo! ” Alison puffed.  He could hear the pout on her lips as she spoke.   “But everybody ’s here!  Can ’t you just stop by for a while?  You don ’t even have to drink.  You can be my ride home… ”  Her voice fell to a whisper that was louder than she likely realized.   “…if you know what I mean. ”

“How much have you had to drink? ” Greg asked suspiciously.

“Too much, ” she admitted at once.   “And Paul keeps offering to take me home.  It ’s starting to get creepy as fuuuuuu… ”

Her voice broke with static, and the sounds of music and the cacophony of overlapping voices.

“Please? ” she said, once the static had passed.   “Pretty please, with my cherry on top?  You know I like to be on top.  You like it, too. ”

“I do, ” Greg admitted, though reluctantly.   “Is it smart for everybody to be at a bar right now?  I mean, with everything that is happening? ”

“Don ’t be a stick in the mud, Greg, ” Alison said.   “Get your fine ass over here. ”

“Okay, okay, ” Greg said, slowing his car and turning off into some random driveway.   “Where are you all at? ”

“Shenanigans, of course! ” she exclaimed happily.   “Now, you better hurry, Greggy-leggy.  Don ’t make me beggy. ”

She laughed and the signal distorted her laughter into digital mania.  Greg ’s phone dropped the signal.

Sighing, Greg reversed out of the driveway —just as the front porch light came on —and headed out onto the highway in the opposite direction.  Southbound toward the city, he could see the faint tinge of light pollution on the dark, fog-cobwebbed horizon of darkness.

“Should be safe by now, ” he said to himself.   “They wouldn ’t have reopened the bars unless it was safe. ”

The highway was not very safe.  Greg slowed as the fog and mist thickened.  There were only a few cars on the road as he drove.  A few went slow; a few went fast.    Most disappeared at intersections and subdivisions.  Lampposts along the highway were wanly white or sickly yellow.  Greg had to turn off his high beams, the bright haloes refracting diffusely among the thick vapors and therefore obfuscating rather than illuminating the road.  It was easier to see with low beams.  He turned his windshield wipers on to clear away the condensation.  Afte ra while he turned on the radio, though he was in no mood for music.  Many of the stations were eaten with static. As he flipped through them he became restless.  A station cut clear through the static infecting the others, and his hand paused a moment at a News station.

“…surging through the Southern states while Northern states are seeing a spike of their own… ”

Instinctively he changed the station, flipping through a while longer until another station cut clean through the static to a song that was in the middle of its chorus, the singer ’s obnoxious voice pealing with a yo-yoing yodel.

“…we are young.  So we set the world on fi-yer.  We can burn bri-y-ihter than the sun… ”

Greg hit the power button and welcomed the humming silence of the benighted highway.  Taking a deep breath — and feeling a little pinch in his ribs —he sighed.  Glancing up at the sky he saw the green star reigning high in the foggy, black sky.  Was it larger now?  Perhaps it was just his imagination.

His cell phone rang again.  He answered.

“Greggy-leggy-poo, ” Alsion said in her singsong drunkenness.   “Where are you? ”

“I ’m on my way, ” he said.  He added, “Are you sure it ’s safe there?  No one ’s coughing are they? ”  He asked because he could hear coughing among the music and the voices.

“Just the smokers, Greggy, ” she said.   “Don ’t be such a scaredy cat. ”

“Aren ’t you worried about catching it? ” he asked.

“I ’ve had the flu before, Greggy-poo, ” she said.   “It ’s no big deal.  You gotta ’ live while you can, Greggy-leggy. ”

He heard a familiar voice in the background.  The creaking-oak voice was avuncular in its proclamations.

“When you get to be my age you see these ‘pandemics ’ come and go.  Yeah, the media drones on and on about it as if the sky is falling, but it never does.  They ’re just trying to ‘make it rain ’.  Money, I mean. ”

“Is that Jerry? ” Greg asked.

“Yeah, ” Alison said happily.   “Jerry ’s here too! ”

“He has a heart condition, ” Greg said.

“Two beers won ’t hurt him, Greggy-poo, ” she cooed.

“That ’s not what I meant, ” Greg said, resentful of her flippancy.   “He could contract the… ”

“Woooo, Jerry! ” Alison exclaimed.   “Chug that beer, you old fart! ”

Several people cheered as Jerry exhaled in triumphant satisfaction.

“Let me tell you somethin ’ else, ” Jerry slurred.   “They want to control you.  That ’s what ’s it ’s all about!  Take a little freedom here.  Take a little freedom there.  Bit by bit.  Before you know it, you are living in a Communist country! ”

“Preach it, Jerry! ” someone said.  Probably Thomas.

“Besides, masks don ’t do anything anyway.  I mean, wearing underwear and jeans don ’t keep a fart from leaking out, do they?  How ’s a mask do anything?  I ’m not no vir…virile…ventriloquist or whatever, but even I know that. ”

A waspish swarm of static swelled and the phone dropped the call.  Greg hesitated to put the phone down, and almost dialed Alison ’s number.  But he kept hearing her comment “scaredy cat ” and refrained.  He drove on through the fog and the shadows.

He hated the console light.  It reminded him of the green star.  It was unnatural.  Artificial.  Synthetic.  Unreal.  Looking toward the South, and the city, he saw that the light pollution seemed tinged green, too.  He wished to see the sun, but the sun had been blacked out all day by the rainclouds.  Now that the clouds were gone, the night had come, and with it this oppressive fog.

“Paranoid, ” he told himself.   “The fog ’s distorting it. ”

He continued Southbound.  He continued rationalizing away his fears while suburbia faded in and out of the fog on either side of the highway.  The homes were like haunted houses dimmed darkly in the fog, or else phantasms with pale porchlights that were eaten up with distance and shadow and mist.  He was a numbers man; an accountant.  He knew about percentages and rates and interest and such, and he told himself that numbers were nothing to fear when they at 1%.  Even so, watching the houses lurch out of, and dissolve back into, darkness made him uneasy.  So many houses.  So many people.  How many people would accept the odds of dying from something when the reward for the wager was merely the status quo?  It was a death sentence everyone agreed to pass on someone randomly; someone they may never see or know in their lifetime.

Then again, he knew that odds were strange things that made allowances for aberrations at unpredictable rates.  Various circumstances could exponentially increase the odds of something happening within sectors and conditions.  To concentrate numbers, and decrease distance while increasing time, were to multiply the odds that the unlikely scenario would play out.  Pascal ’s wager, in other words, was not such a longshot in a universe of infinite possibilities.  And besides, odds could also tilt drastically against someone — such as someone attending a church —and suddenly the odds disadvantage all the people in that church because of circumstances and conditions being ripe for such over-leveraging of occurrences.  In other words, by risking the odds an individual invites the possibility of maximum loss, even with minimal waging.

Greg thought about what Jerry had said.  The problem was that the danger seemed like it was far away, over and beyond the horizon; happening somewhere else, if it was happening at all.  There was a delayed sense of impending peril.  Like an asteroid in the Milky Way that was supposed to hit earth as it looped around, year after year, but no one could calculate when.  And so days go by, and months, and years, and people forget about it.  Or stop believing in it.  Then, one night, they are looking up at the stars, thinking about the lives they have been habituated to, and all at once a star falls to earth, only it is not a star —it is the asteroid —and they have been staring at it all along, but not recognizing it until, at long last, it comes crashing down upon their complacent heads.

Chicken Little is vindicated, but not in a way that will bring any satisfaction to himself or anyone else.

“The sky is falling, ” Greg said.   “Isn ’t it? ”

He frowned down at the N95 mask.  He did not know what to think.

His cell phone rang.  He answered it.

“Please join us, soon, ” Alison pleaded.   “Hurry.  Paul is being weird.  So is Mikey..  He is very handsy.  Won ’t keep his distance. ”

“Alison, ” he said seriously, “stay away from them.  Do you hear me?  Where ’s Rachel?  You and Rachel need to look out for each other until I get there. ”

He tried to accelerate his Charger, but the fog was too thick and he almost hit a opossum crossing the road.  He swerved, then slowed.  Alison was speaking like a child.  It was quiet behind her, except for a knocking noise.

“Rachel is with the others, ” she said.   “I ’m in the restroom.  By myself.  I locked the door.  People are banging on it.  Paul and Mikey won ’t leave me alone. ”

“Alison, do you have your mask? ”

There was a long pause.   “No, ” she said, her voice cracking tearfully.   “I left it in my car.  Or I threw it away.  I don ’t remember. ”

“Just…just stay in the restroom, ” Greg said.   “And don ’t open it unless it ’s me talking to you.  Okay? ”

“Okay, ” she whimpered.  There was another long pause.   “Greg…I ’m scared… ”

The static swarmed and the signal dropped.  Greg ’s heart hammered upon his aching rib cage.  He had known Alison for two years now.  They had made out once at a company function —while both were serving as bartenders.  Nothing else came of it except casual flirtation and friendly conversations.  Until recently Greg had been engaged to a young woman he had dated in college.  Partying together through college had convinced them that they were a good match.  A month of lockdown spent together in the same apartment for 24 hours proved otherwise.  When lockdown ended, Greg and his former fiancee bid each other adieu in colorful, uncompromising fashion.  It was for the best, in the end.  They were not a good couple without other people to distract one another from each others ’ incompatibilities.

When he told Alison about the fallout, she quickly began to pull him in her own direction, culminating in a recent night of bedtime gymnastics.

“She said she gets paranoid when she ’s drunk, ” he reassured himself.   “Or when she smokes pot.  She probably did a little of both tonight.  Just to celebrate the first month free from the lockdown.  A lot of people are indulging right now.  Going wild. ”

He glanced, irresistibly, up at the green star.  He tried to speak aloud again —some trite rationalization involving numbers and odds and such —but his voice died in his throat.

The dilapidated strip malls slowly unfurled out of the fog, and the old fast-food restaurants, the dive bars, and then the newer strip malls, and the newer fast-food restaurants, and then the hipster stores, and wholesale foods, and niche shops.  More streetlights bleared sleepily through the fog and mist.  The buildings crowded closer together, occasionally giving way to a block of townhouses, a sushi restaurant, a records store.  Then the more eccentric bars, and the dance clubs, and lounges, and music halls.  Greg told himself that the green tinge to the fog was a result of all of the neon signs for food and beer, and the green traffic lights strung over the roadways, as well as the cars passing by more frequently now, speeding as if they could outstrip Death himself.

But Greg could not ignore the people standing on the sidewalks, and in front of the clubs, and near the outdoor dining areas.  They all stared at him through the fog as he passed, their mouths gaping open to spew the fog from within the greenly glowing recesses of their open throats.  Slack-jawed, they gaped and spewed.  Idiotically they gawped, spreading the fog thickly throughout the city.  Greg ’s hand fumbled for his N95 mask, then quickly secured it over his nose and mouth.  The green glow of their eyes followed his Charger as he hurried toward Shenanigans.

His cell phone range.  He picked it up and answered.  The line was digitally fragmented.

“…Greggy-poo…hurry…come to us… ”

The call dropped and he found that he had a hard time breathing.  His lungs ached.  They had been aching all along.

Shenanigans was overflowing with people.  They all stared at Greg as he parked his car down the street.  They all spewed the green fog.

Keeping one hand on his mask, Greg walked toward the bar, its bright neon sign dimmed in the fog.  Directly overhead the green star glowed bright and sickly.  It was bigger than before.  Greg tried not to look at it, or the other people crowding the street.  He focused on the door.

The crowd parted as he passed.  Their green eyes followed, and they never stopped spewing the green fog, but they did not impede him.  He soon saw why.

Alison greeted Greg at the door.  She was wearing a Summer skirt and a green tanktop.  Her blonde hair was permed into lively curls.  When she spoke the green fog sputtered from her mouth.

“Join us, ” she said, her voice distorted with static.   “There is nothing to fear.  Do not live in fear.  Do not fall prey to their control. ”

Greg backed away, holding his mask tight to his face, but the crowd closed in around him, blocking his retreat.

“Alison, ” he begged.   “Please…you need help.  All of you need help…  You are infected. ”

“Do not fear, ” Alison said, her voice a digital drone.   “Do not live in fear.  Live in liberty.  Do not be controlled.  Think for yourself.  Join us. ”

The crowd enclosed her.

“THINK FOR YOURSELF.  JOIN US.  BE FREE.  BE UNAFRAID. ”

The green fog swirled thickly around Greg.  He had nowhere to go.  The green star reigned above him and beyond him.  It grew larger, coming closer, and what was a star became as a sun, its corona making the night as if a day bright with a pestilent color.  The green light burned brighter than the sun.  His lungs ached.  He could not breathe.  An iron maiden clamped upon his brain.  The mask could do nothing.

He had already been infected.

Images Of A Pandemic

Straddling the lungs
with its heavy weight,
the inflaming imp
settles down comfortably
for the long night.

Forty-thousand deaths so far
in this war,
yet they scoff.
Perhaps if the enemy
believed in Mohammed
they might take this war of
existentialism
more seriously.

Breathing through his
thin orange skin
the toad needs no mask
for his smirking mouth,
contented to eat the flies
congregating on the heaped dead.

They trip the Red Queen,
making her fall flat
on her masked face
and then ready her
corona coronation.

No gloves, no masks,
no tests, no ventilators,
but many are amply supplied with
tinfoil hats,
thinking such fashionable attire the
vaccine
against their fears.
Too soon they gather
on the Spring Break shores,
piling up their
beach bodies
to ride the tsunami
of that swelling curve.

During the Bubonic Plague
the conspiracy gossips killed
cats,
thinking them all witch familiars
and likewise today
they kill
commonsense
to help the rats multiply.
It was a literal
free (flea) market.

The Priest And The Pig

There was a Priest who lived in a town— a town very much like any in Colonial America. His favorite refrain was “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”, and so he often exhorted his flock to bathe at least once every three days for healthiness of body and soul. These ablutions were not so well-received by the townsfolk. They resented taking baths, and they resented the Priest’s ideals concerning cleanliness, and often laughed about their pigs wistfully and how they wallowed so happily in their own filth.
One day a pig farmer asked the priest a question.
“If cleanliness is next to Godliness, then you, being a priest, should be able to clean a pig and keep it clean, shouldn’t you?”
The Priest took the challenge to heart and, so, proclaimed he would clean a pig of his own and keep it clean in the pews of the church henceforth. The farmer was so pleased by this bit of mirth-and-merry that he volunteered his own hog to the Priest; a hog whom he had named Donald.
Donald was a large, fat hog with quivering jowls and quick bowels. It was said the farmer had never planned to butcher Donald because his meat would have been too befouled to eat. Donald also made the farmer— and his neighbors—laugh due to his devil-may-care antics of befouling himself and wallowing in it and shaking it about himself in every direction. Seeing the hog, the Priest was dismayed. But he was not deterred. He took charge of the hog and brought Donald home, immediately setting about cleaning the beast with rituals of ablution. Everyday the Priest undertook this Herculean labor, and every day Donald would be clean for a brief time during Mass. Not long later, however, Donald would be covered in his own filth, and so, too, the church pews. Conversely, the Priest spent so much time and effort trying to clean the pig that he, himself, became soiled and sullied as well. Day to day, his holy garbs were ruined by the hog’s disgusting habits, predilections, and impulses.
In time, the townsfolk began to scorn the Priest and his dirty condition. They stopped listening to the Priest while in church, and forewent their own ablutions. Simultaneously, they looked upon Donald fondly and praised him, adulating his cleanliness, even as he spoiled the pews between which he passed, the Priest following behind him to clean away the filth in Donald’s wake.
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” they said, remembering the Priest’s refrain. And so they shunned the befouled priest and made Donald the new leader in their church. The Priest despaired at this, and became angry.
“Have you no sense?” he said. “It was by my labors that your pagan idol became as though clean!”
His former flock ignored him, sitting in the pews and listening raptly to Donald’s grunts and oinks and squeals. The Priest raged, vowing never to clean Donald again. Within the same service of Mass the hog had befouled himself, flies swarming him in the hot Summer air while he wallowed upon the dais and squealed. The townsfolk looked on approvingly, yet the Priest attempted to triumph in this revelation before them.
“See you now the iniquity of this squalid beast?!” he cried. “See you now how sullied you yourselves are made with false worship of a glutton and putrid profligate? A creature of basest instincts and inane proclamations?”
The flock was sprayed with filth from Donald as he rolled in his own expulsions, and yet the flock was not so filthy as their new idol.
“But he is a pig,” they said. “Of course he is filthy. And that is why we love him. For he is what he is, and makes us feel better about ourselves. And he makes you angry when all you do is make us feel wanting. You only chastised us to improve ourselves. But we do not need to improve ourselves with Donald leading us. We are cleaner when beneath him than we were when beneath you, for if Donald is closer to God when he is so filthy, why, we must be very close to God right now. Closer than we ever could be with you talking down to us.”
“But it is a god of filth that you aspire to,” the Priest said. “It is a god of baseness to whom you lower yourselves in prostration!”
The flock tried to say more, but Donald’s filth rained downed upon them in a great shower. They praised him as one voice, then cast the Priest out of the town, exiling him to the wilderness as if he was an unclean leper among them.
The American townsfolk lived as pigs, shamelessly, to the end of their days.

By This Color Divided

The one color that divides
America into “sides”
is not Black or Brown or White,
Red or Yellow, dark or light,
but the color that is Green—
that is the color between
the one side and the other,
between sister and brother;
it is what gives some more rights
while most squawk in petty fights
that accomplish no more than
idle talk, or prayer, can;
it is the power of wealth
that divides all from oneself;
the othering of the bank
and thus the false social rank.
Similarly, it was gold
that was the demon of old—
it was greed that took the lands
from the Native tribal bands
and it was greed that enthralled
peoples from Africa, hauled
to America to build
the dreams of men who so willed
without care of soul or heart
or the lives they tore apart;
nor the migrants near the turn
of the century, yet to learn
that the green of one’s greed
did not care about their need—
though they were just as White
as whom deemed them “parasite”
and used them all as prey
for cheapened labor, and pay,
as like those of modern times:
Latinos from Southern climes,
for Race is just an excuse
to divide us so we lose
the real war of the classes
as one percent amasses
more money, more power,
everyday, hour by hour,
while we raise a wayward fuss
about tribal “them” and “us.”
Divide and conquer, they say,
and it does work, day to day—
the poor so obsessed with hue
while shortchanged for their due.

Sic Trans Gloria Novae Mundi

It was low tide and Jacob stumbled down the white dune, staggering stiffly toward the lapping surf on the New England coast. Bubbly froth lazed forward and withdrew, then lazed forward again, tumbling planks and splinters of wood and other flotsam in its playful foam. Jacob hobbled with his arms raised for balance as the dune finally plateaued onto the white beach. His backside still stung from yesterday, when his father had whipped him so hard with a leather strap that he could not sleep all night long. He had shoved his little sister. As atonement— in the eyes of his parents and of his God—he was to collect mussels from their clusters among the seaside stones on the beach, or catch crabs, or harvest whatever else God would provide since the Natives had retreated further inland with the advent of Autumn. His father said that the Natives helped the previous Winter only because God had inspired in them His love, but that the pilgrims could not rely on the Natives now. There would be no more help from the heathens, he said. Jacob wondered why.
Jacob was grateful to be away from his family. He was angry, but was too young to understand much more than he was tired of his sister following him incessantly and betraying him whenever he attempted to do anything besides chores. Susan was a little Judas, he thought, and he wished for no more flagellations on her behalf. He had only wanted to walk by the creek, alone, and catch frogs, perhaps, or skip stones. But Susan was stubborn as his shadow, and clung to his trail as steadfastly on her short little legs. Losing his temper, he baptized her in the creek with an abrupt shove of his hands. Yes, she almost drowned, but he saved her, drawing her small body up from the hole he had not seen in the creek. Weeping, but still breathing, she clung to him as he carried her back to their village. Her dress was drenched through and she had nearly drowned herself again in tears by their arrival in their drab stick-and-wattle house.
Jacob hated Susan as he walked along the shore, aching at the seam of his britches. It was his tenth Autumn and the seventh since crossing the Atlantic to the New World. He could not remember the voyage except vaguely— impressions of dark, dank cabins cramped with other pilgrims seeking new lives away from England. Within the shadowy, fetid ship he had felt it sway back and forth upon the grumbling sea and it seemed as if they were in the belly of the Leviathan. His sister had not known the Hell of floating upon the sea. His mother had tried to comfort him with kisses and caresses, and his father had tried to comfort his mother with the Word. But a toddler knows when his parents are lying to themselves. It was evident upon their faces, which he remembered most vividly of all. Their faces were like the damned, and they shuddered as he did at the endless roar of the godless sea.
Seagulls cawed shrilly above, drifting sideways with their white wings lifted aloft, suspended almost magically on the salty winds. Jacob wondered if angels possessed such wings, and if they flew in the same manner in the firmament. The seagulls’ voices reminded him of Susan’s as she cried, and so they infuriated him. He stooped down to pick up a shell or pebble to throw at the birds, but his hand happened upon something strange on the shore. Brushing aside the sand, he found a little doll made of withe and decorated with a pale blue ribbon. Picking it up, he dusted it off. The face of the doll had been painted, but the smile was erased by brine and sand. It reminded him of his sister. He glanced about, and saw more things upon the beach, tumbling languidly to and fro in the lethargic waves. They were remnants of what had been a ship. It had been a large ship, he knew; not unlike the ship which he and his mother and father boarded years ago to come to this wondrous and terrifying world.
The pain in his backside had kept Jacob from sleeping last night, but so, too, did the storm that raged distantly at sea. The winds bellowed like demons and the thunder boomed like pagan gods in a terrible war. Rain leaked in through the roof of their house and pooled in the village square. Not even the stone church was spared flooding. Now that the storm had passed, the sky was crowded with pillars of white clouds through which the sun gazed wanly. The sea had calmed itself, though the wind still hissed uneasily, as if resentful; its grudges not yet relinquished.
It was easier to believe in pagan gods than his father’s God in this New World. His father had said that the New World would be a new Jerusalem; a paradise on earth, born in the belief and the devotion to their God. It would be different than the Old World and all of its iniquities.
The seagulls cried overhead, like angels in agony, and Jacob felt a deep sadness. He untied the blue ribbon from the doll, then hobbled up the dunes and onto the wind-blasted, rain-flooded New England grass. Using a stone, he dug a small hole in the muddy earth and set the doll within it, covering it over. He then used the ribbon to bind two sticks together and propped them up above the small grave. He tried to say a little prayer, but it died on his lips. His eyes burned, but not from the chill, briny wind.
Collecting up an armful of mussels, Jacob hobbled home and gave them to his father. He then apologized to his sister and spent time with her, watching her as if she was the most precious miracle in the world. All throughout the week he never spoke a cross word to her, nor lost his temper with her. And if he became angry, he remembered the drowned doll that had washed ashore.
Susan saw him cry only once—a few tears while he fed the chickens—and asked him what was wrong.
“The world,” he said. “Old and New, it’s all wrong.”

Rat Kings (And Queens)

Tail to tail tangled together
and making nests of whatever trash
they find online, outrage ever
turning clicks to revenue—to cash.
Always excreting where they eat
in forums, comment sections, twitter,
knotted as one, their marching feet
in unison, their hearts bitter,
they seine the sewers for feces
that flow ever downstream,
and are a spiteful species
whose legion of followers teem.
They seek the stinkiest manure
with rodent teeth to gnash and gnaw,
thinking themselves so good and pure
as they chew all other creatures raw—
all whom happen to cross their ranks
of hate-cliques amassing their hate-clicks,
a group ungrateful, without thanks,
rioting in sewers and attics.
And sooner or later they purge
themselves of those not pure enough in
their circle, a crazed demiurge;
a cannibal circle of vermin.