Cutpurse And Cutthroat

A pocketful of sharp pens and knives,
each a thing that can end many lives,
but when I ponder which is the best
I take the largest knife to the test—
two or three people may surely die
before I catch the policeman’s eye
whereas a pen can legally kill
MILLIONS with a legislative bill
that seeks to cut taxes for a few
while the poor who make less revenue
slave away at labors ever worse
for the sake of a CEO’s purse,
whether cutting safety at the mills
so the machinery comes off its wheels
and goes falling down, crushing workmen
into puddles of red jam, or when
the concrete mix is not up to snuff
and collapses from the mountain bluff,
or the insulin cost soars so high
it outstrips blood-sugar, by and by.
Look, an ounce of ink, or maybe less,
can make one hell of a bloody mess
and make more money from sacrifice
to Mammon, that god of wealth and vice,
and that is why the coin and the pen
are in the pockets of congressmen
and why a thief with a bloody blade
is not half so bad as thieves “self-made”.

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.

Beach Stranding

Strapped to the fabled White Whale,
Ahab rode his flanks inland
where waves wove a trail
along golden beaches of sand.

The ebbing tides receded quickly,
leaving the carcass now moored
and the stench rose so thickly
that Ahab struggled and roared.

“O fickle leviathan of Fate!”
he cried, all futility.
“You took my crew and firstmate,
but I’ve seen the end of thee!”

Along the golden coast of Cape Cod
rich families gathered together
as if to behold a dead god
while the captain cursed the weather.

“How hot Summer’s winds often blow
when a man is at Hell’s door!
Pride cometh now, well I know,
before the Fall to this shore!”

The sun baked the sand to gleam
as to be freshly shaved gold dust
and Ahab, within the whale’s steam,
growled as an engine gone to rust.

“Full market value for this bounty!”
He cried. “Ere true worth be enjoined
with apt reward, I’ll not count thee
entitled to a foe so finely-loined!”

The families looked on two thus bound
and pondered how came they from the sea—
this bloated, wasteful pair, pound for pound
equal to their own profligacy.

Innards soon exploded outwards,
festooning that private island shore
with a banquet for squawking birds
which glided in to feast on the gore.

And so strong was the gaseous blast
from the swollen sides of that whale
that it minced the families, all amassed
in the rotten blubber of a morality tale.

Caustic

Disclaimer: Adult Content and Gallows Humor.  Some might say this is politically incorrect, but such people are too blinded by career-oriented agendas to read between the lines or to see past their own projection.  It’s all in good fun, even if it is also a little bit, well, caustic.

It was past midnight by the time Daria pulled into the parking lot below the tall apartment complex. She had taken her time that evening in her photography studio, developing several wedding photos before finally making good on Kyle’s invitation to come over. The wedding photos were not an urgency for her. They were for Mr and Mrs Bentley, whom she had started to call Mr and Mrs Getbentley because of their nagging. She always came up with dismissive names for wedding photography clients. She resented such clients most of all.  Still, Daria did not want to drop what she was doing all at once because a boy had called her over for dinner. No, Daria was taking her time developing the wedding photos for their album, giving them their proofs piecemeal and taking pleasure in cutting their faces up for a collage with which to taunt them, like a kidnapper cutting out letters from various magazine ads for a ransom letter. Or perhaps she was more like a serial killer taunting police. The truth was that Daria held nothing but contempt for couples getting married, and resented having to work for them, especially for their weddings.
Daria did not bother to dress up. She wore a black sweater and blue jeans, a pink shade of lipstick, but no makeup otherwise. She had only started seeing Kyle a month ago and she wanted him thirsty and aware of who held the keys to the libido kingdom in the pseudo-relationship. That wasn’t to say that they never had sex—they had sex the first night they met at a mutual friend’s art exhibit after going to his apartment for wine—but she wanted him to know she had full control over the limited resource of her body and that he was not entitled to any of it even though he was a White cisgender male that made six figures a year trading stocks. The amusement park could close at any time, and often did. Last time she came over to his apartment she left prematurely because he wanted to watch a Jackie Chan movie. Totally boring. Hopefully, she thought, he learned his lesson or she would blue-ball him again.
Kyle had already given her card access to the apartment complex. She used it to get into the lobby and to take the elevator up to his floor. On the way up she felt some pressure on her stomach. She belched, her throat burning with bile, and she was glad she was the only one in the elevator. She carried no purse—being a 10th wave feminist—but she did keep a roll of Tums in her pocket. Her gastroenterologist said that Daria suffered from excessive acidity. She called it acidosis. Her gynecologist claimed the same thing, more or less. Too much alcohol, they said, and not enough alkali to balance it out. She told both of them that she ate plenty of cheese with her wine, but cheese also had lactic acid in it, or so they said. Sometimes her skin blistered and rashes bloomed on her knees, elbows, and forehead. She resented makeup, mostly, but used it whenever she had flare-ups. She felt like she was being dipped in acetic acid by someone who did not know the first thing about film development.
Then again, she also knew the bulimia did not help. Eating a carton of ice-cream and then force-vomiting afterwards left canker sores in her mouth. The sores hurt when she talked, which only made her angrier when she had to talk to people she disliked. And she disliked a lot of people.
Kyle had a posh apartment on the upper side of town. He had no taste for movies or art, Daria reflected, but he did have good taste for amenities and material comforts. There was merit in that, at least. And he had good taste in women, obviously, since he was so hopelessly head-over-heels for Daria. He was like a puppy dog around her. Too bad she was a cat person. Still, she thought him useful for passing the time.
The elevator opened and Daria stepped out, popping another Tums tablet into her mouth and chewing it as she walked the long, high-scale hallway that led to Kyle’s apartment. The silence attested to the quality of the apartment complex. Thick walls and solid doors. Someone could be screaming bloody murder and no one would hear it next door, above or below the apartment.
Daria came to room 512 and swallowed whatever bits remained of the Tums tablet. The acidic heat subsided in her throat and stomach. The bile ebbed. The card Kyle gave her to the lobby and elevator did not work on his room, which irritated her. But it was a ritzy apartment building so they had cards for everything. She hated door buzzers and chose to knock instead. Kyle fumbled with the chain a moment.
“I didn’t think you would show up,” he said, both nervous and giddy with apparent joy as he opened the door.
“You sure look like it,” she said, frowning at his boxers, black socks, and white T-shirt. “You getting ready to go to bed? That’s okay. I’ll just go out with some friends if you are tired…”
“No, no,” he said hurriedly. “I just thought it was too late for you to want to come over. I was watching something on tv…”
“Nothing pervy, was it?” she teased, albeit with a tone so flat that he could not tell the difference. Daria disconcerted most people this way, including her own parents when she spoke to them…which was rarely.
“No, just some old sitcoms,” he said. “I like to jump around. MASH. Seinfeld. Frasier…”
“Old White guys sitcoms,” she remarked with a frown. “Whining about their privileged lives.”
Kyle smiled uneasily. He had shaved, which Daria did not like. She preferred him to have stubble on his chin. Since his hair was black it gave him a very Bohemian shade to his look, even if it gave nothing to his milquetoast personality.
“I guess so,” he said. His awkward, nervous laugh died in his throat. “What do you watch for comedy?”
“Nothing before 2010,” she said, walking past him and into his apartment. She went to his living room, which was dark except for the glow of the television and the city beyond the windowpane. “Anything before that is just too Patriarchal for me to stomach.”
“Oh,” he said, closing the door. “I guess I’m not up to date on that stuff.”
She felt bile rising in her throat again.
“Need to use the ladies room,” she said lightly. “Be back in a second.”
Daria went into his bathroom and closed the door behind her. Looking into the mirror she saw, much to her chagrin, that her forehead was broken out with an angry red patch of psoriasis. It was reptilian in its scaliness.
“Should have used makeup after all,” she grumbled.
Her brown hair was pulled back into a stern ponytail. She undid the tie and let her hair fall to her shoulders. Her bangs covered most of the rash. If Kyle kept the lights off then he would not be able to see the rash. She ate another Tums and rinsed down the chalk with some water. The cool water stimulated her bladder. Sitting down on the toilet, she peed. Peeing burned down below and up into her lady bits.
“Great,” she muttered. “Yeast infection. Or a bladder infection. Maybe both, knowing my luck.”
Her gynecologist told her once that condoms could cause infections. Of course, pregnancy was a worse infection—in her estimation anyway—but she really wished men would get more vasectomies. One little snip and that was it. But their pride got in the way of progress. Daria had been known to castrate men with a quip, so it was all a normal procedure for her.
She waited until the burning, and the tinkling, stopped, then washed her hands and went out to the living room. She was annoyed to find that Kyle had turned the lights on.
“No,” she said. “Lights off.”
While Kyle turned the lights off, Daria sat on his leather couch in front of the huge widescreen television. The lights blinked off and Kyle tried to nonchalantly sit beside her—as if he wasn’t under the delusion that Netflix-and-Chill was always a euphemism for sex while throwaway programming cycled in the background.
“No funny business,” she said. “If this was a booty call I’d tell you.”
Kyle eased off of her, leaning toward his side of the sofa.
“Sorry,” he said. “I just…well…I like you a lot.”
“Course you do,” she said. “I am awesome.” She frowned at the television. “This? Not so awesome.” She held her hand up and Kyle surrendered the remote control. She cycled through the Netflix browser. “This looks pretty good,” she said, selecting an Indie art house film.
“I’ve heard the reviews aren’t great,” Kyle said reluctantly.
“Anybody with a keyboard and an internet connection can critique something,” she said, as if explaining to a toddler. “You can’t let other people tell you what to think.” She crossed her legs, kicking impatiently as her nether regions began to burn again. “Now be quiet and watch. You’ll enjoy this.”
But half an hour later and Daria was not enjoying the film anymore than the critics. It was a slow burn— like the burn between her legs and at the back of her throat—and it went nowhere. Yet, Daria’s pride would not let her turn it off. Kyle fell asleep a few times, and she even nodded off once or twice, finally succumbing to sleep at the forty-five minute mark. She woke up later, the credits rolling down the screen. She needed to pee again.
Rushing to the bathroom, Daria relieved herself. It was painful. The bile rose up in her throat again and she spat it into the toilet. Throat, mouth and vagina burning, she examined herself in the mirror. Apart from redness—and the rash on her forehead—she looked fine. She left the bathroom and rejoined Kyle on the couch. They cycled through the browser again, finding nothing. Neither of them was in a mood to watch anything anyway. Kyle yawned, which irritated Daria. She was ready to leave, but then Kyle spoke.
“I met one of your friends today,” he said. “Or ex-friends, I guess. Toni Bower. She’s an intern at the office.”
Daria never laughed, but she did smirk often, and she smirked expansively at this. “I always knew she’d become an office waitress. She sure as hell was a shit photographer.”
Kyle cringed. “Yeah, she seemed nice enough. At first, I mean. But then I told her I was dating you and she looked like I had ran over her cat.”
Why were you talking about me?” she demanded. “And we are not dating. This is just…hanging out with benefits. Sometimes with benefits.”
Kyle raised his hands in a gesture of surrender. “She wanted to grab coffee,” he said. “I told her I had a girlfriend so she wouldn’t feel rejected. I thought I had a girlfriend,” he added, looking at a loss.
“That’s pretty presumptuous,” Daria said. “Of both of you.” She eyed Kyle coolly, quite irritated with him and with Toni. Daria had planned on dumping Kyle sooner or later, but now she couldn’t. She didn’t like the idea that Toni would be Kyle’s rebound girl. Toni, she thought, was a damn scraphound.
Leaning toward Kyle, Daria rested her head on his shoulder. He could not see her face, but she was smirking— smirking at him as much as at the thought of Toni Bower working as an intern.
“That bitch has some serious crabs downtown,” she said. “She sleeps with just about any dude with a guitar. He doesn’t even need to know how to play it. In college her panties would drop if she saw a dude with a pick in his hand. She’s basically just a groupie for loser guitarists.”
“You are so caustic,” he said.
“What can I say?” she said. “I am a soup kitchen of sarcasm, and everybody’s in line for a bowl. And that bitch deserves multiple servings. Shit photographer and a shit feminist, too. 3rd Wave washout. She’ll probably be knocked up by one of the janitors there by the end of the year. No, it will be worse. She’ll probably marry one of the janitors. She deserves as much.”
“Toni seemed nice, though,” Kyle said. “Really, she did.”
Daria shrugged with smug self-assurance, then took off her sweater. “You’d be real nice, too, if you would just fuck me and stop talking about Toni Bower.”
At least Kyle was good at foreplay, she thought. Her panties were gushing by the time he put his rubber on. She ignored the burning downstairs, even after he inserted himself and began to thrust away. He was average in every measure, so the burning was not exacerbated too much. For a while, at least. He even managed to give her a couple of decent orgasms, her vagina tantalized into gushing vengefully against the image of Toni Bower crying in a lonely corner of an office building. Daria hated that bitch so much that it made her horny.
It was just before Daria’s third orgasm that Kyle began to grunt and groan and make painful faces. At first Daria thought he was going to orgasm. That irritated her. How selfish! She considered herself a 10th wave feminist— far ahead of the curve— and she did not want a man to finish inside her without giving her what she wanted first. So, she pushed him off of her and, before he could say anything, grabbed him by his ears and dragged his face down in between her legs. She was so wet now. He began to convulse, but she did not let go; no matter how loudly he screamed into her pelvis. When she had finished shaking from her final orgasm she let him fall back, moaning in agony. She was so taken away by climax that she did not care. If the building was on fire she would have just laid there, satisfied and unconcerned. It was when he began crawling across the floor that she realized something was wrong.
“Don’t be such a baby,” she said. “Eating pussy never killed anyone.”
He mumbled something, weeping and pointing to his face and to his penis.
“I am not going to blow you off,” she said. “Go finish yourself in the bathroom.”
He was shaking with sobs now and she lost patience. Sighing angrily, she stood up from the couch and turned on a light. Blood streaked the floor where he had crawled like a worm. He tried to speak, but could only moan ineffectually. His tongue, and his penis, had been melted to bloody nubs.
“Okay,” Daria said, after considering him for a long time. “I suppose Toni can have you if she wants.  Better than a janitor, I guess.”

21st Century Wickermen

A slow fire burns
in the temple of the world
and by the smallest turns
we are roasted as we are twirled
around a workaday spit
for someone else’s meal,
cooked however they see fit
to have their cannibal fill,
for we rarely sacrifice
as we did in days of old
when a virgin would suffice
in the ancient pagan hold—
a throat slit, a heart torn,
the blood of one’s firstborn.

Nowadays it is a subtle price
which the poor must always pay,
an odds and ends sacrifice
on every menial workday,
for life is made of dissected time
and our time is given to others—
to those willing to claw and to climb
up the heaped bodies of their brothers.
A little time sacrificed from a lot
to benefit only the wealthy few;
a little from which is thus bought
the Devil’ intractable due.
“The cost divided among so many
amounts to little,” they say, “if any.”

Yet, instead of notches on bone
we have notches on clocks;
instead of feudal seeds sown
we have dividends and stocks;
because many are slowly killed
in the dead-end, daily grind
to maximize the market yield
for the stockholder hivemind,
which is why the aristocrats
overwork others, and fire some,
just so their bloodline brats
can inherit a bigger kingdom.
The only way to insure your blood
is to make others toil in the mud.

Blood may not stain the chopping block,
but blood does sustain the gears,
lubricating the industrial clock
for machines throughout the years.
Paradise has always come with a cost
even in a world of cornucopias,
and our guilt will never be lost
in these ostensible utopias.
There is a reason the word “fire”
is used when terminating you,
because they are adding you to the pyre
of the unemployed, too.
A pink slip is the pagan mark
to light the wickerman’s spark.

Cardinal Rule, Cardinal Hill

There is no carnival thrill
on Cardinal Hill,
not for boys like me, us river-rats
who live in the shadows of fat cats,
and while I may be a white cisgender male
which, nowadays, seems a hard-sell,
I am also a blue-collar scholar
that doesn’t like Rush Limbaugh or the Daily Caller.
When you tell me
so snappishly
that I should feel “White Guilt”
you lose someone with whom you could have built
a better America, a better nation,
and so discord becomes your sole occupation.
Let me tell you something about sex and race:
Cardinal Hill is an actual place,
it is a place that always looked down
with a condescending frown
in our waterlogged holler
for we were river-rats, and they were White Collar,
and so when you, bourgeoisie, tell me
I am to blame for previous history
you might as well blame me for the shape of the earth
because it, too, was decided long before my birth.
Poor is poor
as we drift to sift
through every thrift store
to find this year’s school uniform
while name brands, for other kids, are the norm—
we wear military fatigues, hand-me-down coats,
yard sale socks and dig through throwaway totes.
No one’s suffering should be tallied and spent
by race or sex or creed or accent.
And it is true: you have to have privilege to complain
about privilege, otherwise this thought-train
derails and explodes, blowing up in everyone’s face
the third-degree burns subsuming everyone’s race.
Listen: have you ever had to shudder in a winter storm
since there was no central heat to keep you warm?
You can’t let a log stove burn all night
while you sleep in a trailer, awaiting sunlight.
Have you ever worked on your 13th Birthday, in the snow,
taking off a roof while the cold winds blow?
Your gloves are eaten through by crumbling shingles
and the rich kids are inside, warm and enjoying jingles.
Have you ever ridden a bike where you weren’t wanted
while rich kids laughed at you and taunted?
Or else they shunned you as a hillbilly bumpkin,
saying you belonged in a back alley dump bin?
They said we were rednecks, poor, and “weird folks”,
treating us like creatures born of inhuman yolks,
and yet they hired us to work on their porches and roofs
which taught me, young, about Life’s hard truths.
You see, there are Cardinal hills all over the earth
so before you start criticizing anyone’s worth
perhaps you should look in a polished mirror
and see things as they are, a little bit clearer,
because shit always runs downhill from the very top
and we know that prejudices never really stop,
whether from racists or classists or complacent cityfolk
who assume so much with a keyboard poke—
because my kin grew up in the shadow of a Hill
near a river, in a holler that was used like a landfill
for junk cars and appliances and whatever other thing
that was discarded from the wealthy hilltop ring;
we grew up not unlike mushrooms from a bog
so spare us your White Guilt articles on your blog—
please earn your clicks some other way,
or maybe get a real job, right now, without delay.
There’s one more thing you need to read,
even if it isn’t something you wish to heed:
once upon a time poor people of every color
interbred in America, and were none the duller
in this fine interplay of diversity, thereby reconciled
in the happy complexion of a “mixed race” child,
but then rich people realized that the desperate poor
could be controlled with pseudohistorical lore
about racism and purity and knowing one’s place—
knowing a divided people were easier to keep apace,
and while SJW’s have good intentions (some do)
some are dividing us all for a paycheck, too.
Look: those who do not live by scepter or saber
must live by the bounties of their labor,
so look to your hands and see what they grip—
is it a dividing blade, a ruling rod, or someone else’s lip?

My Sense Of Class

My Sense Of Class

Great wealth might easily buy

many valuable things,

like a new car, a big house,

and several diamond rings,

but it can never buy values that matter,

like heart and character and class

because a donkey is still a donkey

and an ass is still an ass,

which is why you can pay all you want

for a master to paint a fresco

on your newfangled outhouse

in perfect imitation of Van Gogh

and yet not at all change

the nature of the thing one bit:

the outhouse would still stink

because its foundation is full of shit.