Tag Archives: fundamentalism

I Wonder How They Do It

I wonder how they do it:
save their sins for Saturday,
when the sirens at their honky-tonks,
their claws attached to whiskey-rocks
or draft beer cold enough to freeze
a witch’s tit, sing out the same familiar song.

I know they must have plugs of wax
stuffed in their ears, ’cause they don’t listen
to the band, or much to what the sirens say;
their only interest is the way
a pair of too-small jeans is filled
with that forbidden fruit they’ll spend
’til closing time trying to pick.
Then in the pew next to their wives
they’ll squirm and pass the buck,
blaming their weakness.

I wonder how they do it:
how they manage to survive
when every other thing about their lives
is cataloged and sorted out;
the neighbors know what business hours
you ought to keep, and just how long
it takes to make the trip uptown
and back. How is their secret kept?

And of these sirens? What’s their game?
What kind of life do they expect?
They sift among the wild or weak,
and hope these sailors will respect
their song, after the whiskey-rocks
are emptied from their hands
and they are perched outside the trailer door
to watch the low tide back at sea.

SEP 24 2007

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The Camp Meeting

“This town needs a revival,” I heard some sure person say
at the supermarket just the other night.
I thought about replying, but instead just walked away;
no point in telling people that they’re right.

There’s at least 50 churches in the just under two miles
between the store my driveway, I think.
It may be old time religion is now coming back in style,
but the water isn’t what we want to drink.

We know we’re headed straight for self destruction;
hell, any fool with half a mind knows that:
we’re dumbing down our children’s school instruction,
and becoming lazy, mean and fat.

“I put my faith in Jesus,” I heard an old-timer say
while co-signing a check down at the bank.
I thought about a comment, but instead just said, “good day;”
sarcasm would have likely drawn a blank.

This town is full of lawyers, and their practices are booked
from now until the final judgment comes
with people suing people, calling other people crooks;
attorney’s fees are quite a tidy sum.

We know we’re headed straight for immolation;
hell, any fool could see the flames by now:
we’re reveling in ignorance and mental masturbation
and evolving into our own sacred cow.

“This town needs a revival,” with a sad shake of the head,
the lady at the market firmly spoke.
I thought about replying, but kept my mouth shut instead;
you can’t fix something you can’t see is broke.

There’s at least 10 or 20 in each church’s parking lot
on Sundays between nine a.m. and noon;
by early afternoon the sermons all have been forgot:
but at least we’re all humming the same tune.

We know we’re headed straight for real damnation;
hell, only a blind fool would disagree:
and all that we can do is suffer through the situation
watching it play-by-play on the TV

We know we’re headed straight down to perdition;
hell, any fool could see the end is near.
It’s lucky that we’re not to blame for this sad world’s condition;
let’s praise the Lord and have another beer.

14 FEB 2007

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Careful What You Ask For

Do you really want theocracy,
to thin or blur the line
between what makes us get along,
and what God had in mind?

That means you’ll have to tell the truth,
and never get divorced;
make no income from interest
(that’s usury, of course);
respect your elders, even when
they say you’re full of shit;
give not your coat, but your shirt, too
when the homeless ask for it;
never bear false witness,
which means you’ll have to work hard
to learn what really are the facts
beyond your own back yard;
and stealing? Each and every kind
you’ll have to forthwith cease;
that means the end of espionage,
sly dealings, and palm grease.

You’ll need to give up judging sheep
who come from other folds,
and leave off all interpreting;
just do what you are told,
not by some politician, preacher,
or pope, full of zeal,
but by a judge beyond your ken
who does not hear appeals.

17 JUL 2005

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Neo Politics

Neoconservatism is not a threat to the free-living, free-wheeling, bleeding heart liberal philosophy of us drug-crazed, sex-minded hippie freaks.

No, despite its definition as “an approach to politics or theology that represents a return to a traditional point of view (in contrast to more liberal or radical schools of thought of the 1960s)”, it is not the left wing, per se, that is the target of neoconservatism. It’s target is not to return us to before 1960, but before 1760. After all, the traditional point of view in politics or theology is not democracy. It is monolithic, totalitarian and unquestioned rule. It is fascism, painted with a nostalgic brush called “the good old days” — those days before liberal science gave us the conveniences that gave us the free time to sit around and reminisce without having to actually experience the minor setbacks of medicine, culture, diversity, equality, and economic well-being that were in those halycon days available only to the extremely wealthy, or extremely lucky (and luck would be defined as in the right place to benefit from the temporary whims of the current dictatorship). It is belittling, beheading, excommunicating, exiling, or executing any who disagree with your point of view. And it is the point of view of rich, white men — who have convinced, somehow, the remaining 95% of the population of this country (that’s right, 95% of the wealth is controlled by 5% of the people, remember, and those aren’t people living in Harlem, or Watts, or Chinatown) that this is the agenda upon which America should settle. The course which we must steer by. Our mandate.

Let me get this straight — our mandate, as a democratic nation, is to abandon democracy, much as the Anasazi abandoned New Mexico.

Under a banner of religious self-righteousness, jingoistic nationalism, military might and xenophobic paranoia — particularly regarding people of Semitic origin and language.

Careful with that swastika, Eugene.

You will not successfully barter the illusions of freedom and liberty for the illusions of control and safety on my watch. The former may be undisciplined, untamed and only nebulously defined, but even in that raw, feral state they are worth ten times the most alluring manifestations of the latter.

That’s what I call a Neo-Liberal agenda. Fixing the broken left wing so the eagle doesn’t have to spin in circles and wear itself out trying to leave the ground.

Or to put it more bluntly, you can have the Constitution to wipe your ass with when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

The right to bear arms is NOT the same as the right to own or use a gun.
Schools and hospitals should be a greater priority than prisons and graveyards.

The ends never justify the means.

A Democracy is more fragile, and therefore needs more protection, than a Republic. The former is an idea, while the latter is a thing. That’s why the Pledge of Allegiance is somewhat misleading. A symbol, such as a flag, stands for an idea or ideal, not a thing. A thing is a limited interpretation, a casting in the temporary stone of time, so to speak, of an idea. It is not the idea itself, only a small part — in the same way that a religion is merely a bucketful of seawater mistaken for the entirety of the ocean.

Once you disregard ideas in favor of things, you stop thinking. Once you stop thinking, it doesn’t matter what the polls say, because the opinions you are offering are not your own, anyway. Most likely they have been given to by someone who does not know of, care about, value, respect, understand, or have any responsibility for, your life.

The responsibility, at least, they can never shoulder anyway. Responsibility is the price you pay for ideas — whether your own or someone else’s.

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Tell Your Children

Thinking of Richie Havens (thanks to poetbear for dutifully transcribing “Younger Men Grow Older”), I reached into the deep chasm of the archives and pulled out the only Richie Havens-inspired song I ever wrote. It dates from about 12 years ago … imagine all kinds of “Freedom” like strumming … not my usual subject matter, but I was extremely irritated with some right-wing Christofascist ideology at the time, and it sort of just came out … it was probably a combination of Freedom Fighting in Nicaragua, Freedom Fighting in the Falkland Islands, and Freedom Fighting in Belfast.

God, it seems your houses are the very first to fall
Explosive words in your foundations leave most wicked scrawls
And your small children, those you haven’t time enough to save
Are gone, and your own armies lay your sod upon their graves

Please tell your children this is not how it should be
We cannnot kill each other off, and still claim to be free
Each day another heathen soul climbs nearer unto thee
But for myself, here in our hearts is near enough for me

Women and our children are the victims of this war
But that is nothing new, for it has happened here before
Perhaps the grail was something Arthur never should have saved
Before the world believed in You, and by Your will enslaved

Please tell your children this is not how it should be
We cannot hate with hatred and believe in love and peace
Each day another murdered soul cries nearer unto thee
But for myself, inside my heart is near enough for me

We sit upon the left of you, or perhaps on the right
Far from the door so we can ignore wailing in the night
From those gnashing with their gums because their teeth have fallen out
Your word has so deafened us that we can’t hear the shouts
Of your unbroken followers who toil within our jails
And keep our cross-constructors stocked with wood and sharpened nails

Please tell your children this is not what you had planned
We cannot draw the line between two kinds of fellow man
Each day another holy fool runs nearer unto thee
But for myself, here in my heart is near enough for me


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Literal Interpretation

To be or not to be, that is the question:
and if we are to be regarded seriously,
as humans, placed upon this earth to live
according to our stated frame of mind,

it surely makes no sense to place our trust
in a universe that we do not believe;
imagining a fantasy that shapes our whims,
without acting as if it was reality.

In other words, to say “magic exists,
but not enough to really affect change,”
to offer prayers to deities and saints,
but not believe they hear or answer back,

seems to show a certain lack of faith;
it’s more an admission of absurdity.
Some things must be taken literally,
or there’s not much point in taking them at all.

16 JAN 2003

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