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.

Pandemonetized Death

The token of our holy creed
bears the seal of our fickle breed
which thereby reads, “In God We Trust”,
and so we must, for boom or bust,
forfeit lives of those sickly few
so the Devil may get his due,
for Mammon is our true god here,
crisis or not, year after year,
and we take less stock in those lives
when the Stock Market yo-yo dives—
the bottom line we must all serve
cares not for flattening the curve,
so live and let die at what rates
the Dow Jones index thus dictates,
projected profits meaning more
than elders hastened to Death’s door.

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.

Lord Of The Golf Rings

Lord of sparkling pyrite illusions,
like Saruman with his many cloaks
projecting power through delusions
and defying the Shepherd of Oaks.
He seeks the end of the Age of Man
and is false idol, and false wizard,
and pollutes all those whom he can,
corrupting Middle-Earth with his word.
Having power through what is believed
by those who kneel beneath his tower,
it is a sleight of hand shadow sleeved
as a showman’s at his premiere hour—
not a power of intelligence,
but of lies, deceits, a con’s bluster
ensorcelling those deprived of sense
as they gaze on a false-gold luster.
And what forces may vie against him
when Mt. Doom rumbles at its distance?
Good men lose faith and the light grows dim
while the elder race flees hither thence.
For Gondor has lost its favored son
and sulks in the shadow of Mordor
while Rohan wastes without direction,
king idle behind a wormwood door.
The Rohirrim, too, ride without aim,
flanking the enemy, to and fro,
almost as if playing a child’s game
rather than defeating their sworn foe.
Wherefore Gandalf? To the very small,
yet for who knows what wizard’s reason
as Hobbits rise to the horn-blast call
for a time in the easy season.
For comfort is the worst evil spell
and is far worse than the Uruk-hai
as it halts the hero from his tale
and aids the tireless, triumphant Eye.

Uncomfortable Truths

Priorities
A racial slur has never
killed a single person,
but one must wonder
how many Third-World people we have all
curbstomped
with our carbon footprint.

“Pocahontas”
Just one word and the Wall Street
iconoclast
crumbles, the kitschy tomahawk falling
from her pale hand.
Meanwhile the false gold idol
remains, leering as he slouches
atop the idolater’s pulpit,
untouchable beneath so much
praise
and pigeon shit.

Tax Write-Off
It is as sad as it is
true
that only wealthy middle class Whites
can afford the
guilt
of White Privilege,
whereas for the working poor
it is just another luxury item
cut from the budget
until good times come again
to broaden their purchasing power
and their
overtaxed sympathies.

Pocket Change
The feminist theory book was
closed upon itself,
thick with sermons against ancient
wrongs
in a cobwebbed corner of the room
while the pink pocketbook
changed the world
one purchase at a time
to a more
feminine shape.

Hodge Podge Poems

To Grip The Truth
A knife whose blade was made
from the blade of a plowshare, the handle a
bone antler, its grip offered to me
pommel-first
so
blade may part pelt,
flaying another skin
from a corpse hanging
by steel hooks
to bleed the slick meat dry
in the cool, ramshackle shack
where fluorescent lights reveal all
in clinical detail.
Old antler-handled knife…
freshly butchered buck…
what must be said is that
Life will eventually turn you against
your own kind,
one way or another,
until the blood mixes with mud
like wine poured spitefully from the
cup of peace
and we all are tools, all
hanging upside down and
headless,
bled dry for someone else’s daily meal.

Outrage Room Argument Theory
What is going through the head
of the person in this Chinese room
where we slip online text to be read
only for the outrage machine to boom?

An innocuous comment on a post
is misread by the command program
as an attack on those who are most
oppressed in their limited RAM.

Context and nuance do not matter—
only the buzzwords are comp[<ed>];
he, or she, is thus a Mad Hatter
always “/t’ed” off at the code prompt.

So, take what anyone innocently says
and crunch out preconfigured outrage
like dispensers spitting out PEZ—
they fail the Turing test, page after page.

Nothing but intentionality in their box,
they follow codes in their operating system—
but is there really outrage on the VOX
or are they simple machines of algorithm?

Don’t Tread On Me
The snake struck fast
at the dive-bombing eagle,
its spring-loaded coils
shreaded by a
taloned tread
and its gun-oiled body
now hanging limply
after a misfire.
The bird rose once more,
unharmed and
unimpressed
by the venomless mottos
spoken by saber-rattling snakes
shooting off at the mouth.

You Can Leave If You Don’t Like It
I am riding
with a loved one
who speeds along the busy road
and refuses to stop at flashing red lights.
It is frightening
and I try to tell you to
slow down,
to
obey the rules,
and you tell me that I should just
leave
if I don’t like it.
Sure,
I could leave;
you could just
drop my ass off at the next corner
and I could ride with someone else,
but I am really hoping to change
your mind
because I care about you
and
because even if I did leave
I would still be sharing the same road
with you
as you recklessly drive
along these global crossroads
of history,
smashing through everyone
with your red, white, and blue negligence.

 

Ignis Fatuus

Ignis fatuus, a fickle fire
leading fools astray with his glow—
leading them into the fetid mire
where swamp creatures lurk below.

Flickering in the deceptive dark,
he draws lost people to his light
for despair, for anger, for a lark
as they wander the uncertain night.

Fanged creatures gibber and howl,
expecting a feast most gruesome
when he glows where they prowl,
all eager for the meals to come.

Drain the swamp? He will not,
for Foolish Fire needs slime to exist;
he would fade away without the rot
and the putrid gas in the mist.

So beware the flame among the muck,
popular though he is, somehow,
or you will fall in and get stuck
like millions who stumble after him now.