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.

Overexposure

I palm the early morning sun,
holding back the molten glow
that teems as if to overrun
my eyes, my skull, all that I know.
It seeks secrets best left in the dark
lest the revelations both destroy and enlighten,
like the golden lid rising off the Ark
to burn away falseness, and to brighten.
My hand, it is as skin and flame
pushing away the infectious light,
but that light inscribes every sin and shame
like a tattoo needle, or a sharp nib’s bite.
Sins are written in the folds of the brain
and dwell in shameless shade for a reason;
the brain cannot bear what it is, the pain
as the sun illuminates, season to season.

Agenda Goggles

Agenda Goggles, a dime a dozen!
Get one free, for yourself and for me,
for each parent, sibling, and cousin!
Come see what you want to see!
Wear them when out with a friend
to see a movie meant simply for fun
and find yourselves foes by the end,
arguing politics as you come undone.
Take them with you everywhere:
to the park, to the café, to your job,
and see things with a tinted stare
that will make you want to summon a mob.
Never enjoy anything ever again
while wearing your Agenda Goggles—
no book, poem, comic, or comedian;
nothing’s safe while your brain toggles.
Make a career out of your impaired sight
by prospecting for online outrage,
instigating fight after fight after fight
to gain clicks on your blog page.
You can also feed your Twitter feed
by spotting prey with these sensitive glasses—
prey of every gender, race, and creed
cobbled together from the mosaic masses.
And while normies carry on in a quiet life,
you can see everything as a war of tribes
and profiteer from that traffic and the strife
like a corrupt judge blinded by bribes.

Spiritual Dysphoria

It was not unlike the prognosis of
body integrity identity disorder,
but I had to cut it off,
despite having invested so much of
myself
into growing that misplaced limb of
belief,
faith,
religion;
dogma being a limb grown hitherto
from within the womb.
But I had to remove it
before its
eschatological appendicitis.
And I understand why many people react
violently
to losing their religion,
just as they would losing a
leg
or arm
or even their head,
because it is an attack on the self,
a psychosomatic assault
which is registered as such in the
brain’s errant cauldron of
miswired nerves and biochemistry;
but I had to cut it off
after spending many years
in the frigid frostbite realms of Reason,
cauterizing the rotten wound with
merciless progress.
It was, after all, a
liability soon replaced
by a more efficient prosthetic.
Even so,
there are times when,
in the shadow of fight or flight circumstances,
I feel the irrational itch
of my
phantom limb
and wish to encode myself fully
into modernity’s machines,
finally liberating myself,
if only temporarily,
from superstition’s angsty, tingling
codex of nerves.
What is this errant sensation I feel
in the dark, fearful hours of life?
It is merely a nagging pop-up error
in my cerebral matrix
for hardwired software
long ago deleted.

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?

Flash Fictions

Naive
“There was once a man who believed ardently in Humanism,” her father said. “He believed so utterly in Humanism that he ventured forth into the wild jungle, where it was said man-eating tigers stalked the shadows. He brought with him no protection except several books on Humanism. Once there, he preached to the jungle on the value of a human life, reading from his many books of all the merits of letting humans live and thrive. Many of the tigers passed him by, indifferently. But a few tigers began to gather around him, watching him very intently as he lectured them. He even preached to their cubs, thinking the next generation of tigers would know better than eating human beings, if only they were taught to be Humanists.
“An expedition discovered what remained of him a few weeks later, his bones surrounded by books and his skull’s sockets gaping wide, as if in abject surprise.”
“He was naive,” his daughter said. “He should have known better. Predators don’t care about that stuff when they’re hungry.”
“True,” her father said. “But you, too, should know that you are living in a jungle. That is why I want you to bring more than just books with you to ward off the tigers.”

Zen Breath
It began so simply, as many things do, and it grew unto complexity, like a sheet of paper, blankly white and smooth and flat, now folded into an origami animal. Miyazaki’s anger burgeoned from workaday irritation to blinding rage as he waited in the subway station at Shinjuku. And the irony of the situation was that as he stood waiting, steeped in his own aggravation, he attempted to take a deep, Zen-centering breath and release the rage in dissipation— he really had tried— only for the nearby commuter to breathe out a cloud of cigarette smoke which Miyazaki inadvertently breathed in, coughing uncontrollably while the other commuters stepped away from him; stepped away from him as if he had some fatal airborne illness for which he needed to be quarantined. It was then, as he coughed and cursed and chewed the grudge of that terrible year spent as a twelve-hour-a-day cubicle jockey— it was then that the yokai possessed him, at long last, and drove his fist through the smoker’s heart, tearing its vermilion core out while bystanders screamed and scrambled to flee from the horrific carnage wrought by the long-horned demon that suddenly stood amongst them, glaring with red eyes as he rushed about, in gorilla-fisted fashion, rampaging throughout silver-edged, neon-lit Shinjuku until later that afternoon, killing many people in his wake until finally finding himself at Hanazono Shrine and, by entering it, expelling the demon so Miyazaki could sit down and empty himself of his negative emotions. Indeed, he emptied himself so completely of negative emotions after that terrible indulgence that he transcended the mortal plane and passed on to a higher plane of Enlightenment. Many people, consequently, have since concluded that Enlightenment could be achieved as much through devastating debauchery, excess, and sin as much as through years of abstinence, purification, and meditation. Zen Buddhists and Shinto Priests cannot reconcile themselves either way and, it is feared, many such esteemed personages were denied Enlightenment because of this troublesome anecdote.