Tag Archives: democracy

Single digit blues

I hope that I shall never see
the poor in our democracy
convinced to vote Republican
believing they’ll become the one
percent. I hope, but feel, alas,
that both the elephant and ass
are run by callous millionaires
who each say they’re the ones who care.

I hope before that tragic day
the poor man’s eye scales fall away
and see that God is nowhere in it.
We all lose the very minute
we stop doing our own thinking,
and pretend our Kool-Aid drinking
is the cure for our malaise
and will return the good old days.

I hope that I shall never see
the end to our democracy:
when in the din, all reason’s lost,
and none speak out against the cost
of trusting those with profit shares
from selling guns and signal flares,
who win no matter who will lose
and dance while poor men sing the blues.

30 SEP 2014

America is Still: an erasure exercise

America, as Whitman wrote,
is fading low;
her heartbeat, a sour note.
Her voice blows sadness,
and one can hear her weep.
Her voice
resonates inside the bones,
reminding of truth,
your own.
Her war machines
songs of might.
Her technologies
keep hope alive
of should or could.

Across the age
times are lean,
echo songs that
America still sings,
sadly led astray by fools
who sing as others do.
America, they cry,
’tis treason to
keep this deadly pace;
grey and die.

And a dirge
echoes in the
as hope sickens and
tune is fading.

The lifeforce beats strong
out in the wild;
but urban adult and child
recognize the rhythm is wrong.
The arteries swell
the weary head;
circulation is
sent off-course.
While doctors
sing of operations yet untried,
freedom varies;
avoiding blame,
they sew prejudice inside,
and her heartbeat is slow.

Who are the great?
What works?
The grand and strange,
is the rage.

Her story must be
in jokes
to be
the common folk,
America’s juke-box
hit parade, unsung,
memorized by rote;
her Music faded,
the piano
a frequent sour note
and her song of hope,
a new way
will join the fray,
and fight for dignity
but her
vulgar selfish lot
enter the ring
to entertain
yet she cheers,
hoping their valor will prevail,
the cause will win.

America sings a
song of travail;
Her voice shouting in the wind.
Out in the night
turn this great gold
and reap nature’s plight.
This diversity of
pay the cost.
She sings for
for the forlorn,
crying out in pain,
that still defy
the song that sells the future.
Where triumphs and ideals
spurned a nation to believe,
to grieve –
and turn the wheel.

With funeral songs
she celebrates
memory gone wrong,
the dregs of misery.
Those who listen
with deaf ears –
faces in the rain,
are called deranged,
and must abandon careers;
there is a sadness.

She cries out for the
sculptor and newsboy;
they pursue another dream,
and silence is the song.
In that chasm her dreams
heed and follow
in shadows,
with strength to give.
Before the dawn, some fools
grasp at them before
drink the mead that fills,
in spite of
others’ dreams, cheaply made
now and again.

26 APR 2013

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was creating an erasure, in essence a rewrite of a longer poem by eliminating words or even whole sentences from the original resulting in a new and potentially drastically different poem, in both form and meaning. While this kind of exercise is often done using a “famous” long poem, like “Howl” or “The Raven”, “Evangeline” or “Paradise Lost”, I decided to apply this idea to one of my own longer poems, an envelope sonnet inspired by Whitman and intended as a song of hope. The original can be found here: America is Still Singing: an envelope sonnet. The result, I think, is not so hopeful and slightly more dire in its outlook. Maybe.

Blue Monday

I’ve never met a President, I doubt I ever will;
In recent years, the only likely one for that was Bill.
They never seem to be much like the people that I know:
they have more money, that’s for sure, and travel to and fro

persuading and attempting to convince me what is real
in case I haven’t figured out the truth of the whole deal:
it doesn’t really matter, in the end, who claims to run the show
or who claims some authority based on some need to know,

I’ll do what I believe is right, just like I’ve always done,
and won’t require one law to change, nor need to purchase guns,
nor back my claim with scripture, nor intimidate with threat,
nor count on anyone to help me but my work and sweat.

You see, it doesn’t matter – ’cause if the whole world’s insane,
the only thing you’ve got to fear is what’s in your own brain;
and if you need approval from the masses for your truth
you might as well forget it. It won’t be from voting booths

that your redemption will come forth; no, it will never be
so long as there need to be laws to give you liberty.
You’re free already – it’s your choice to stand or else to kneel;
you’ll be convicted either way, so which has more appeal –

to live the life you know is right, be kind, and just and wise?
or wait for some new world to dawn? If you think that these guys
who look to be elected, either one, can make things right
and turn approaching twilight into dawn by skipping night,

can with some magic heal the wounds we’ve spent years making sore,
can get rid of depression, terrorism, hate and war,
can counter greed, and selfish interest, and make people care,
then you’re off in some other world, and I wish you luck there.

But here, real change is up to you and me, and no one else;
there’s only one who’s fit to change your world, and that’s yourself.
Unless you work to make this place, this time, worth living in,
you might as well vote with a blindfold. Don’t bitch if you win.

03 NOV 2008

Moving to America

When right-wing zealots take control and change the living here,
in bonfires roasting unfit souls with smoke that never clears,
to forgo the auto-da-fe I’m sure will be required,
where can a person choose to move and still remain inspired?

Some place where there’s still rule of law, dividing church and state,
without a bloody history or spineless legislate;
where there is culture, and some sense of personal dignity;
where healthcare is informed, supplied, holistic and sanitary.

Some place that doesn’t want to be a member of G8,
that doesn’t stand a chance to share a superpower’s fate;
where military spending isn’t more than art, or schools,
and where technology is not the end, but means and tool.

Where nature is important, and where reading is still done,
and entertainment does not mean six kinds of VH1;
where extremists of any kind are not staging a coup,
and perhaps things could be improved, but in the main, they’ll do.

An anti-theocratic place, where tolerance is taught,
and peaceful ways to solve dilemmas at all costs are sought;
where freedom of religion means freedom from such things, too,
and how another leads their life has no bearing on you.

Of course, the weather must be good, and winter’s not too cold;
because I like the beach and summer now that I’m grown old.
Fruit that’s fresh, and leafy greens from gardens close to home,
good food, good wine, good bread either in public or alone.

And property — the right to own it, at a modest price;
these things are the essentials. But some others would be nice:
like making sure America remains the kind of land
where flags are fire-proofed, not by law, but by for what they stand.

19 JUL 2005

What fools would try to wrest a nation’s fate

What fools would try to wrest a nation’s fate
from tyranny imposed by those with wealth
who presuppose as theirs the right to rule
because none dare to meet them face-to-face,
who in religion’s name defy what gods
they claim to be the basis for their faith,
who with one hand extend a palm of peace
while with the other wield a bloody sword,
whose honeyed lips are smeared with coward’s lies
that use base fears to turn opinion’s tide,
who, like a playground bully, seek to shame
and paint as traitors those who harbor doubt,
who would eliminate honest debate,
denouncing it as indecision’s tool,
who, having power, use it to improve
their own lot first, the ends worth any means,
who in the name of freedom, would oppress
the rights of those upon which their wealth feeds,
who would manipulate the public weal,
despite its better interests, to their goals?

Our founding fathers, probably. Despite their human failings.

Emergency Petition to Save the Courts

MoveOn.org has got a petition drive going that’s worth looking in to. I did, and here’s the message I sent to my Congresspeople:

Checks and balances means when one branch of the government is conservative, another is by necessity liberal. When Republicans control the executive and legislative branches of government, by necessity they MUST NOT be allowed free reign to appoint the members of the judicial branch. They should KNOW this, if they are in fact believers in democracy. If they are NOT supporters of democracy, they have no business running this country.

It does not matter whether you agree with the conservative or liberal, Republican or Democratic platforms. That is NOT the issue. It is not about who WINS. It is about maintaining DEMOCRACY, about sustaining bipartisanship, about encouraging dissent, about preserving the checks and balances which are so imperative to safeguarding the Constitution. The Constitution is at stake here, NOT some party line. And without the Constitution to back it up, without people who are willing to go to the mat, to fight to ensure that it is NOT freely interpreted except in the interest of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for ALL Americans, there is not much of a democracy to speak of. And worse off, there are a lot of people drawing paychecks for protecting that democracy that aren’t doing their jobs.

The Senate must oppose the “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster, and preserve the checks and balances that have kept our courts fair and independent for centuries.

Bipartisan Blues

The fascist right … the commie left … the accusations fly,
with neither side, in truth, much worried ’bout the little guy;
they do not represent him, even though that’s what they claim,
’cause behind all their rhetoric, they’re pretty much the same:

Both sides make heartfelt speeches to a captive audience,
who, face it, have eschewed most logic and good common sense,
in thinking that these politicos, who speak of some gesalt,
have anything in mind but finding someone else at fault.

Just once, I’d like to hear a politician state the truth:
that they’d said anything to get you in their voting booth,
and that the numbers they rely on are in fact just lies,
manipulated to reduce their opponents to size.

And further, I’d like congressmen, and senators, to boot,
instead of claiming justice is their sole end of pursuit,
to simply say they’re sorry, but the way that things are now,
free speech, fair play, and honesty they simply can’t allow.

At least then I know where I stand, as if I couldn’t guess:
a once-great country trying to deny it is a mess;
a people proud of learning less and less each day in schools,
whose main interest is money-making, educated fools;

a flag that isn’t fireproof, because it does not wave
for truth, justice and liberty for all, free man and slave;
instead, by some selective wind, it chooses its flagpoles
by special interests, narrow vision, and pretense at soul.

I wonder, as I hear them speak on C-SPAN or the news,
if anyone who is in office really knows my shoes.
They do not know my first name, that I’m sure of. After all,
it’s never them in person making their fund-raising calls.

Bipartisan, bischmartisan; blue, red, and purple hues;
Republican or Democrat; evangelist or Jew —
why don’t they get it? Why not look beyond such simple lines,
and think what’s best for the whole country, while there is still time?

12 MAY 2005