that’s what little protests are made of

take a knee don’t
black an eye don’t
close your eyes to
hate and lies and

hold your head high
hold your fist high
hold your breath you
son of a bitch

we hold these truths to be self-evident: not all are created equal; not all are endowed with unalienable rights; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are allowed, but you must not be ungrateful.

be grateful you
degenerate punks
you rich, entitled,
arrogant shits

anti-American
anti-military
anti-patriotism
anti-white (oops)

I have a nightmare, deeply rooted in the american dream, that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “we hold these truths to be self-evident: not all are created equal.”

not all are created equal
not all are graced with freedom
not all are given a voice
not all. not all. not all.

transience tagged

Written for Rattle‘s September 2017 Ekphrastic Challenge.
Art can be viewed here: https://i2.wp.com/www.rattle.com/ekphrasis/EC17Sep.jpg?ssl=1


slowly climbing these few steps at the end of each day
takes all the energy that remains

go left
     between the seats
          14A is her favorite
          not too close to front or rear – hidden, like life

blanket, spread.
knees, tucked.
breathing, slows.
remembering, begins.

the dream

today was like every other – push the cart – gather the riches – lean, heavily, as the feet begin to drag a bit – street by street – door by door – ignore the insults – avoid eye contact – keep walking

the dream

when I was young, like Lana’s song, the stares came for different reasons – I soaked them in like epsom salts, easing the aches no one could see – I smiled like a model, thin and beautiful, worthy of everything – everywhere to go, everyone to see, everything to do, all I could be – then there was life.

transience embraced
     nothing remains beyond
          neither time, nor place
          it’s time to embark – find another place, another life

bag, loaded.
coat, buttoned.
hat, gloves,
her few possessions gathered

she departs.

behind her leaving only an eponymous tag.

best left unsaid

inspired by the (mis)speech of Donald Trump at the United Nations on 19 September 2017* + the history of the United States of America**


so what did you think, dad?
 

This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation by
imposing a failed ideology that has produced
poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried.

 

failure abounds, it must be stopped

 
the drums of war have begun beating yet again
 

We face this decision not only in North Korea…the Iranian
government…ISIS…the criminal regime of Bashar
al-Assad…the corrupt and destabilizing regime in
Cuba…the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela…

 

criminals left and right, just like Congress

 
(but dad, I didn’t know they’d ever stopped)
 

The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue
regimes that violate every principle on which the United
Nations is based. They respect neither their own citizens nor
the sovereign rights of their countries.

 

of our sovereignty, we offer correction

 
the American war machine, on the march since 1775
 

Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been…I
intend to address some of the very serious threats before us
today but also the enormous potential waiting to be unleashed.

 

the machine well oiled, unable to be stopped

 
(has there ever been a time we weren’t at war?)
 

Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support
terrorists but threaten other nations and their own people with
the most destructive weapons known to humanity.

 

they’re most destructive, we’re most powerful

 
cowing those who think differently
 

If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then
evil will triumph. When decent people and nations become
bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only
gather power and strength.

 

their ways are evil, they must be corrected

 
(enforcing freely the American way)
 

In America, we do not seek to impose our way of
life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example
for everyone to watch.

 

watch carefully, adjust accordingly

 
lying, stealing, killing, genocide, replacing
 

In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward a
lasting defeat of ISIS.

 

when facts fail, narrative fills in

 
baiting, threatening, bombing, pretending
 

The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind
the false guise of a democracy…We cannot let a murderous
regime continue these destabilizing activities while building
dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it
provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program.

 

ye who have ears, let him hear

 
starting, treating, resuming, ending, resuming
 

We want harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife. We are
guided by outcomes, not ideology. We have a policy of principled
realism, rooted in shared goals, interests, and values.

 

goals and values, but not ideology

 
(can I see this never-ceasing conflict? what’s the proof?)
 

Strong, sovereign nations let diverse countries with
different values, different cultures, and different dreams
not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of
mutual respect.

 

if the respect is lacking, we can enforce that value

 
revolution, native genocides, 1812, mexico, opium, civil
 

From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope
of military operations, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set
up by politicians…Major portions of the world are in conflict and
some, in fact, are going to hell.

 

avoiding damnation, our plans can’t fail

 
korea, spain, philippines, china, nicaragua, haiti, dominican republic
 

We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions
from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to
ensure that new generations of children are raised free from
violence, hatred, and fear.

 

it’s in our power, but we won’t choose it

 
world war 1, russia, world war 2 (hiroshima, nagasaki)
 

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it
is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice
but to totally destroy North Korea.

 

been there, done that

 
korea (again), cuba, dominican republic (again), vietnam, thailand,
 

If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit
of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world
with unthinkable loss of human life.

 

stop loss of life, drop bigger bombs

 
lebanon, grenada, libya, panama, iraq, somalia, haiti (again),
 

From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true
socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered
anguish and devastation and failure.

 

punching bag of an idea, even though practically extinct (china?)

 
bosnia, kosovo, afghanistan, iraq (again), pakistan, libya (again)
 

It is far past time for the nations of the world to confront
another reckless regime — one that speaks openly of mass
murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin
for many leaders and nations in this room.

 

sticks and stones, but words

 
and that’s nowhere near the full list, my son
 

Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent
nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security,
prosperity, and peace for themselves and for the world.

 

groups of one, getting shit done

 
(damn dad, you’re right…why are we built this way?)
 

Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action.
All people deserve a government that cares for their
safety, their interests, and their well being, including
their prosperity.

 

our sovereignty, others will comply

 
because we know what’s best, son
 

Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever…Are we still
patriots? Do we love our nations enough to protect
their sovereignty and to take ownership of their futures?

 

hope they bought it, thank god it’s over

 


*Transcript can be found online at http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/19/trump-un-speech-2017-full-text-transcript-242879

**For a somewhat comprehensive list of wars into which the US has inserted itself or started, at least the ones we’ll acknowledge, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_the_United_States. It’s one hell of an eye-opening read.

thinking of irma (2 poems)

A few poems I wrote this week while thinking of Hurricane Irma.


beautiful oblivion

The water is beautiful –
Serene, cerulean,
Stretched wide as the eye can see.

You’d never know that
Bodies
Lurked just beneath the surface –
Breathing yesterday,
Now submerged in eerie calm.

Ripples from kayaks,
The occasional man in hip waders,
Swimming neighbor children.

As fast as it came the
Deadly water disappears –
But life is never quite the same after
Irma comes to town.


bad people

the dying embers of Irma
reached my home today –

cold
wind
rain

we bitched about the drizzle while
others, unknown faces,
lost everything they
knew.


I received a bit of feedback from the editor of a literary magazine on beautiful oblivion, which I’ll paste below, followed by an edit that much improved the piece.

beautiful oblivion, rewrite

The water is beautiful –
Serene, cerulean,
Stretched wide as the eye can see.

You’d never know that
Bodies
Beneath the surface –
Breathing yesterday,
Now submerged in eerie calm.

Ripples from kayaks,
The occasional man in hip waders,
Swimming neighbor children.

As fast as it came the
Deadly water disappears.