AMERICAN CYCLE

AMERICAN CYCLE

Altruists at heart,
We forgive everything,
Including the latest remix of terror,
Lugubriously fattened at the end
With “thoughts and prayers”
Sent reflexively with knitted brows
And pearl clutching astonishment;
Our uniquely “American” experiment
In thoughtful discourse.

If anything could be done, it certainly wasn´t considered,
But this we have long resigned ourselves to
For want of any reasoned speculation.

Some of the dead were pregnant, some children this time, all
Gathered in Sunday best for their best selves to emerge later,
Hugging neighbors, shaking hands in peace on their ways home,
Now removed from their red-splattered clapboard horror,
Now as statistics on a graph
We will not look at
With any honesty.
The fruition of years of feckless debates.

The other great terror of our times
Is this:
Cowardice is tenured,
Allowing the regular sacrifices of sons and daughters
Without even a disembodied voice from afar promising
An angel to stop it.

It´s all ours now.

Advertisements

The Tenacity of Persistence

THE TENACITY OF PERSISTENCE

As much as the honey on the blade tempted our taste-buds,
We wanted to focus on other things, but
No discussion of the pain we witnessed needed reminding
Of the main subject at hand:
Why do we keep killing each other?
It was disagreeable enough to gather discussants
(Our program wasn´t settled completely
And no one was willing to terminate it at this late date)
We tried, though.
At the heart of our talk
There was this strange issue of history.
We looked into each other´s eyes,
Seeing little that would answer the question there.
But, despite the inordinate coming of winter
When a gentler summer was needed,
Staying hopeful mattered,
Even if the bullets flew by our heads.

WHEN HELP FINALLY ARRIVED

WHEN HELP FINALLY ARRIVED

Somewhere blank, we don´t know exactly where but
There in that little tropical place,
Whose name we really don´t know either,
Nor care to speak of,
A strangely pacific wind blew through the shades one day
As the spaceship settled into its nest among
The grasses along the edge of the
Now barren hill
Near the stream.

(It might have been a fantasy, but let´s continue.)

After the hurricane destroyed everything, the people conducted a
Requiem for Civilization, using the last embers of the fire they made
To roast a couple of pigs for the neighborhood, to then write
“HELP!” on the bald mountaintop,
Hoping that a century of neglect might at last
Attract some attention among the newly visible millions of stars at night
They became quickly re-accustomed to
Since no one had electricity now.

The catalyst was despair; not that they were unfamiliar with it before,
But all these years’ gritted teeth wore down even the toughest among them
And finally “los desesperados” took matters into their own hands:
Realizing help might come from above, this time.
When that moony night finally came
They all gathered around the silver craft, now
Tilting to its dented side as the mud weakened,
Threatening to pull it down to where the rest of the island´s debris
Lay at the bottom of the ravine, on its way out to sea,

A few of these noble people took to dragging
The many ragged branches along the road
To prop up the ship
So that at least some entente could be negotiated
when at last their meeting came.
Sadly,
Nobody took notes.

However, in the morning it was decided that,
As they shared the same basic anatomy,
We´d all be best served by pairing up in the huts during the hot days,
Splitting the slender catches of fish at night,
Swapping recipes, holding hands,
Looking up at the stars together.

THE LONG NIGHT´S LAST SONG

THE LONG NIGHT’S LAST SONG

It was all out of proportion:
The whiskey glasses,
The numbers of imbibers,
The slothful sort who rambled in
When the closing hour began,
Along with the usual mean-spirited kids who thought they
Could take a chance by drinking faster and more deeply
Than their health or peers thought appropriate.
Few had any sense that night.
But on stage, just before last call,
When Tommy sang, the first bottles tossed were the last,
And the ensuing silence,
Draped in the vapors of a dozen pipes and pub cigarettes,
Overtook the posturing, the laughter, and the liquor,
Sweeping the last stragglers out
On waves of tears they fought back
As they walked the drizzly streets home.

THE RAISE

THE RAISE

Fully absorbed in his nautilus frame of boorishness
The manager took out a vaguely green-ish tissue and suddenly sneezed,
Mucus running into his Don Ameche mustache and quickly
Sopped up by the old tissue he swiftly dropped
Into the trash bin near his desk.

Uppity as we knew it was, the meeting about the raise began on that foot.
We couldn´t stand on it much so none of us noticed, or,
We pretended not to notice until
Files brought in from his secretary
Were deftly snatched from her hands along with a passing
Gooey hand on her shoulder as he said, “Thanks.”

I winced and feeling weak looked out the window.
The window cleaners across the way were laughing
As my stomach churned between what I´d just witnessed
And what I saw then:
They were teasing each other by rocking the platform and occasionally
Spitting at each other, the thin arcs of the white liquid
Tracing the 60 floors down until they disappeared on a crowd of pedestrians
Shuffling towards the subway.

Upset at the progress, my colleagues tapped my shoulder and
In one sickening motion, I turned quickly sharing my own unwanted liquid spews
In the form of a dizzying wash of brown Coke and barely digested street bought
Mexican chicken quesadillas smothered in creamed cheese and bright-red salsa,
Now a manic mess atop the boss´desk and papers ready for his examination.

You could hear the muzak from the elevator just outside his door as
The secretary stared, standing stone still and pale
Before silently closing the door in her own quite pekid panic.
Gripping her mouth and Making a beeline to the restroom down the hall.

There would be no fluffy labor talks now,
But, just before the Great Upset Howl emerged from his formerly tight-lipped frog face
I began to scream with laughter yelling
“Hallelujah!”
A rude and rowdy jump of joy
Mixed with my former stomach contents gracing my best shirt but
Sharing what I knew were the sentiments we all had
Before the yearly begging rite always began with that pig,
Thinking we´d never get much this time around
But the proceedings next year wouldn´t be nearly as fun.

A USELESS GOD

A USELESS GOD

He once thought that
the weight of his vision could
carry him elsewhere,
where neither pain nor profit prospered,
but then he wondered,
what incentive does God have
to be merciful
when all God loves
dies anyway?

To live in this dark quiet mess,
where the sanctification of stupid
still holds sway,
is to accept the Promethean limitations
of such a being,
making
the very concept
useless.

THE SHAPE OF THINGS AS THEY ARE

THE SHAPE OF THINGS AS THEY ARE
Chief among the concerns today was finding
the right hashtag to carry on
as a full member of society.

This is what it has come to.

Along those vaster Empyrean realms
no one sports in anymore,
noble sentiments now compete with
empirical analysts (soulless pickers of nits
who rely upon conspiracies of
logic and precision where gods fail to meet their muster),
and occasionally we see the wider flights:
the dancers of arts, the pluckers of strings,
the laughing churlishness of mischievous angels,
whose very presence
marks the adjuvant to our daily cocktails
making the drudgery tolerable,
the awful weird, bearable.

There is much work to do yet.

The unsetting sun

THE UNSETTING SUN

Near midnight,
The sun is still there, above the
Horizon, bleaching both books
& thangkas on the walls
Just outside this room
Where the cool golden glow
Sneaks through the door and,
Turning from my desk to see,
I sense the years as leaden weights
Lying under a cold sky.

INFALLIBLE

INFALLIBLE
I wanted something different, dammit, something that would
Upset the powerful and unfurl a twisting dime´s worth of
A chance to tilt it over enough to fall.
It should fall, all of it.
The sparkling shit shows that pass for news,
The grinding crush of the daily lives most lead,
The waking terror of missing a payment, a lunch, getting stopped for a ticket,
Getting recognized in the food stamp office.

Tilt it all over.
Shoot, knock it down now.

As stressful as I saw it, it was worse for the unlucky,
The lone feeders of the ether, living in boxes out back,
Or rotting trailers with flapping doors, hand to mouthing,
Praying for anyone or anything to makes us
As great as we feel we should be
But never will be and we know it.

Call me infallible.
I ain´t got nothing wrong on that last check to the counters
Where the tips are getting smaller
And the stinginess of the damnable writes “US citizens only” on theirs
Praising Jesus on the drive home, saluting the flag still flying
Near the Post Office, now closed.
Whatever becomes of this shit it´s a whole lot better
Than being vaporized in a wash of radioactive isotopes near a playground or
Dropped above your heads.
Every particle there we eat or breathe is another mark the cancer
We´re set for is a cancer we´ll see through alone
Posting prayer wishes on Facebook, crying that it´s all
Too much to bear.
I keep getting it right. Damn.

We got a choice:
We can turn up the amplitude and get walkin´
Or we can light the fires at home,
But it´s going to take long struggle and a lot more misery
Before that belated victory is seen, the better way demonstrated.