The Sweep Of History

On curtains, corners, chairs, and table cloth,

amassed together in piles, or diffuse,

powdery like the wings of a white moth,

the dust is swept; a sad thing of disuse.

I dreamt, last night, that I met John McCain

in the Oval Office, a dismayed ghost,

and though dead, the man was also in pain;

I tried to calm him, like a concerned host,

for there was a tyrant in those great halls

that pushed about the men who had served us,

commanding them all like impotent thralls,

however small or great, with idle fuss—

it was the bristles of a careless broom

that went sweep, sweep, sweep, left, right, to and fro,

apathetic as it cleared that proud room

of history’s fallen, as the winds blow.

“I voted for Barack,” I told him, then,

and he did not seem to mind much, for I said

that I admired him for all the times when

he put America in his own stead.

He nodded sadly and vanished as dust,

and I woke to tears trickling down my cheeks,

for the tyrant sweeps aside what it must

to make space when the vox populi speaks.

 

Personal Note: I have not always agreed with John McCain in the past, whether it was in pursuit of war in the Middle East or his desire to engage Russia in a war for Ukraine.  He was always too much a War Hawk for my inclination.  That said, he had principles, and he was a man who thought the greatest honor was to serve.  I am still grateful for his attempts with John Kerry at passing Campaign Finance Reform in the United States.  Alas, Mitch McConnell would not allow the bipartisan bill to reach the Senate floor and so we have, in this country, legislation that is written by Corporations rather than by legislators who are premised in looking after the best interests of the United States.  Even so, principles matter.  Morals matter, even if they amount to no more than dust in a corner of a once-proud office now brought to ruin.  And when I saw John McCain give the Senate the crippling down-vote against the Repeal of the Affordable Care Act, I had never felt so proud of a man who I had, shamefully, vehemently disliked during his campaign against Barack Obama.  Tribalism is destroying the United States.  Trump is destroying the United States, also, by sullying its reputation and demonizing its diverse demographics, just as he demeaned John McCain as a human being.  And, yes, I did, in fact, have this dream as recorded above.  Naturally, it was not in meter, and was much sadder than mere words could ever express.  And I admit, without shame, that I did wake up with tears in my eyes, for not only John McCain, but for the United States and for humanity as a whole.  Tribalism—being a sin of my own—will destroy our species someday, unless principles guide us upon a better path.

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.

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.

RazzPutin

When he speaks from the podium
his eyes glow brightly
with luminescent sodium,
gas-lighting daily and nightly
while working a puppeteer’s magic
and a mesmeric doublethink
upon the world stage that’s tragic,
getting as many applause from the rink
of useful idiots and lost souls
as from the Kremlin-backed trolls.
He can tell an unabashed lie
with reptilian smirks
so oleaginous and sly
that just the flow of its oil-works
floods the market with crude—
like OPEC, but with attitude.
He blows razzberries
that can make the NRA crowd
blow their gun butt-cherries,
(so loud and so proud),
but he likes to deafen cries
for “true Democracy!”
with poison, smears, and lies,
for he is Deimos-cracy.
He has died many times in the past
only to rise once more,
his constitution built to last
as people say, “Another four!”
Disseminator of discord,
profiteer of confusion,
he is Bolshevik and Lord—
both sides of the Revolution.
No Iron Curtain is needed
when he can create a wall
made of Noise heeded
on the internet by all;
a wall to enclose us
in a paranoid bubble,
echo-chamber thrombosis
in amongst our Nation’s rubble.
Razzle-dazzle,
razzmatazz,
RazzPutin loves to frazzle
with political jazz.

A Few Humorous Poems

Riches
“Worry not for worldly wealth,” the priest said,
“for your riches lay beyond Heaven’s Gate.”
The priest then counted his flock, head by head,
and, pleased, sent around the collection plate.

Puppetry
The ventriloquist had not half the skill
to throw his voice from a wooden throat,
so he chose to work on Capitol Hill
as a lobbyist, becoming the GOAT.

Get Bent
A contortionist of world-wide renown
was giving a performance much lauded
when she suddenly stopped and then stepped down
from the bright stage as the crowd applauded.
Waiting till the audience fell quiet,
she pointed to a man among the crowd,
directing the spotlight till he was lit—
an embarrassed man to whom she now bowed.
She said, “Here’s a man who twists more than me,
more than anything, even a serpent,
as he lies on the phone so easily.”
The man tried to speak, but she said, “Get bent.”

Much In Common
They adored him as a Rock god of sex
in the Seventies, his groupie harem
birthing the next generation, (Gen X),
who also shared his favor among them.

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.

Carried Away With Oneself

The townsfolk worried when the river would crest,
knowing it would flood their precious farmlands
and ruin crops before the Summer harvest,
all so fearful it was out of their hands—
that is, all except Donnie, the local fool
who lived in a white house all fading fast
and didn’t know how to discern a plain mule
from a jackass, or from a looking glass.
Anyhow, Donnie had it in his dense head
that he would save the town from the great flood.
“Give me all your buckets,” Donnie loudly said,
“and I will reduce that river to mud.”
Townsfolk thought this a hell of a hoot, all right,
and so they gave him every bucket,
and so Donnie took them to pail, day and night,
at the river, walking far to chuck it
away from the river, out toward the swamp,
where he fancied he made a difference,
even as the locals would laugh and would stomp
to see him so taken with such nonsense.
By and by, the river crested and then ebbed
as the floodwaters flowed farther on South
to the tributaries, watersheds, all webbed
until the river ran dry at the mouth.
The townsfolk were amazed to see such a thing
and praised Donnie for his supposed feat.
“If you are so grateful,” he said, “make me king!”
The townsfolk all knelt down to kiss his feet.
Thereafter Donnie saw to the floodwaters
whenever the rains fell in a torrent,
and he had much to eat, and many daughters
from the townsfolk, though it was abhorrent.
Each year the river rose, Donnie would bear it
with buckets, scooping it by the liters
as proof of his practice and pledge and merit
as the river rose, or fell, by meters.
But then came a year with such heavy rains
that they feared a forty-day flood was nigh
while the river swelled and broke over the plains,
the current swift, the whitewater crest high.
“Donnie! King! Save us!” they all cried out in woe.
Donnie scoffed at the river, wide and vast.
“I’ll right it,” he said, his orange cheeks aglow.
“You just wait and you’ll see! I’ll fix it fast!”
And so he took up his bucket, and his crown,
and he went to the rabid riverside
where he dipped his big, greedy buckets down
into that roaring, racing river tide.
For days he bailed at the river, growing tired,
yet the river only swelled larger still,
the farmlands and the town becoming but mired
in the bloat of that Leviathan swill.
“You are a fraud!” the townsfolk said to their king,
but he never lost faith, too much the fool
to ever doubt himself in any one thing
as he sought to solidify his rule.
And so Donnie worked at his usual pace,
which is to say, slow…lazy…no swifter
than the Hare when sleeping in the fabled race
against the tortoise, that steady drifter.
But the river was both the tortoise and hare,
for it ran swift while staying in its bed,
or else moved steadily outward, here and there;
whichever way its swelling excess led.
And Donnie waded out in the deep, thinking
he needed to get to the river’s heart
to pail out the most, although he was sinking
to his neck—yet still thinking himself smart.
“You won’t ever beat me, river,” Donnie yelled,
choking on whitewater as it tumbled
like the frothy fury of millions that swelled
until Donnie tripped and gagged and fumbled.
And, at a blink, Donnie was swallowed from sight
beneath the currents he thought he mastered—
his crown and buckets were found the next night:
the river will always have the last word.