The Strange Fruit* of Endemic, Systemic Racism

The Mueller Report and
Attorney General’s Summary:

Moneyed, Republican white guys
going easy on moneyed, Republican
white guys.

Alternate scenario:

Moneyed, Republican white guys
passing judgment on a black:

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

*Strange Fruit written by Abel Meeropol (using the pseudonym Lewis Allan)
who was deeply disturbed by a picture he saw of a lynching. Meeropol set
the song to music with his wife, Laura, and performed it at venues in
New York City.
Billy Holiday recorded the song in 1939. Information from
The Writer’s Almanac, April 20, 2019

Knowing

I am known as a male;
I am known as a white male;
I am known as white male of
     Swedish and Dutch ethnicity;
I am known as a white male of
     Scandinavian, Finnish, Russian,
     English, Northern European, Indian
     (from India) ethnicity;
I am known to be out of Africa;
I am known as a Christian;
I am known as a Buddhist Christian;
I am known as a Taoist Christian;
I am known as a Hindu Christian;
I am known, along with all other humans,
     as a member of the one
     race, the human race;
I am known as a part of creation;
I am known as a child of God;
I will know as I am known.

And the Lord God Said*

And the Senate Majority Leader
implored the Lord God to refrain
from sending the Lord God’s
wrath upon the US Senate be-
cause the senate Republicans
would not stand up to the corrupt
President of the United States.
“What if I can find thirty
Republicans with integrity?”
And the Lord God said to
the Senate Majority Leader,
“Show me thirty Republicans
of integrity in the senate and I
will refrain from raining down
my wrath upon the senate,”
and the leader couldn’t find
thirty. The leader said, “What
about twenty?” The Lord God
said, “Show me twenty Republic-
ans of integrity in the senate and
I will refrain from my judgment
upon the senate,” and the leader
couldn’t find twenty nor ten nor
five and then the Lord God, in
great graciousness and much
frustration, said, “Show me just
one senate Republican of integrity
and I will save the senate from
my wrath,” and the majority
leader, more like a hare than
a tortoise, hightailed it back
on a fast track to the Kentucky
bluegrass.

*with apologies to the account
of Abraham’s intercession on
behalf of Sodom (Genesis 18:
22-33).

Betwixt and Between

Betwixt and between
is how he sees Holy Week and Halloween.
He’s too old for a mask
but for candy loves to ask.
For Holy Week, it’s the same.
Some he likes, some he disdains.
He’s got things backwards
even, sometimes, a lack of words
to describe how he feels
why some don’t and some do appeal.
He likes the somber and morose
more than Easter’s hearty toast.
Ironically, an extrovert who likes it quiet
rather than the hyped-up riot:
“He is RISEN!”
and the raucous response,
“He is risen INDEED!”
sounds more like a cheerleader’s shout
than a profoundly affirmative creed.
He would rather just sit in quiet gratitude
with no detectable attitude,
so maybe he’s more
a Holy Saturday guy
than in Easter’s exuberance fly.
He’s just thankful
not to be left in the tomb
and happy to be emerging from the womb,
born again of the spirit to catch his breath
and begin to wave farewell
to the sting of death.

Well, It Is Only Tuesday of Holy Week

He thought about writing a profound
poem. After all it is Holy Week, not
exactly a jocular event in time what
with talk of scapegoats, paschal

lambs and lots and lots of violence,
such prefacing, predating, prophesy-
ing and placing the proverbial stamp
of approval (looking backward) on

the preaching, parables, proclivities
of one particularly unfortunate chap
who grew up in obscurity in a back-
water town surrounded by not par-

ticularly fertile territory named the
Promised Land by those who were
ever so tired of wandering in a desert
they would settle for just about any-

where, which they did. As he said,
he thought about something with
profundity but with so very much
misery to go around and anxiety

to boot he couldn’t help thinking
about the baby-faced, blue-eyed
Jeffrey Hunter cast as Jesus, who
if prophecy be right was not comely

to look upon and had no beauty
in him to behold and that led to
thoughts of Cecil B. DeMille and
Charlton Heston and Easter Bunnies

and colored eggs and milk chocolate
and he started to laugh and then
started humming “Always look on
the bright side of life,” but the most

serious religious depiction in recent
years of Holy Week was Life of Brian
and that had already been done. And
then he thought,

Well, it is only Tuesday of Holy Week.

Thanks For the Memories

Thanks for the memories —
Oh, my, as a fifties’ child
And sixties’ kid
And seventies’ adult
I loved watching Bob Hope
Like I loved so many standup
Comedians through the years
But we are all children of our
Time and my time with Bob
Ended in the late sixties and
Early seventies when he and
I went in very different directions
For a while and now that a while
Is over I can celebrate his hundred
Years of incredible comedy devoid
Of all political concerns. Yes, Bob,
Thank you for the memories.

The Brave, New Soma State

The young man, about twenty, standing
behind the counter at the convenience
store gazed at the TV propped on a stand
a few feet from the counter. A customer

entered, saw the station and exclaimed,
“Not Fox Noise.” “Hey, that’s the only
station, man,” rebuked the clerk. They
bantered back and forth for a few minutes

and parted joking about “fake news” at
Fox or CNN. An elderly man was found
dead in front of his TV. The station playing
on the TV was Fox News. The old man

had been an apolitical guy until he en-
countered the station to which he swore
allegiance. He moved downstairs, hardly
communicating with his wife or grown

children. He just sat and stared at the TV
and grew angrier and angrier and more
and more resentful of everything especially
the Affordable Care Act which covered the

old man’s growing physical ailments until
the day he died. The clerk at the con-
venience store doesn’t drink, smoke or do
drugs. The dead, old man had given up

smoking years before. They never acknow-
ledged their addiction, what would come
to be called the nation’s new soma, nor did
they ever imagine that they, along with

sixty million other God-fearing, patriotic
Americans would star in a dystopian story
about an addled populace that sat staring
at their TVs while the red-headed Son of

Hitler, rightly in their dazed, somatic
state, pushed the big, red button.

You Will Be Set Free

You will be set free
from anxiety
if you know this:
it is all divine
kenosis
for your sake
and mine,
so,
say the theologians,
it’s a divine
condition —
emptying
one’s self
of everything
and being filled
to the brim
with the love
that banishes
sin
egoic
with life
toward
justice, mercy, peace
devoted.

He Saw A Program

He saw a program featuring the 87th birthday
Celebration for Loretta Lynn and he was
Transported back forty-some years to his
Seventeen years in the Great Commonwealth
Of Kentucky as a young, wet-behind-the-ears
Pastor. He isn’t a country music fan, but
watching the TV program brought back so
Many memories. Who would believe the kid
From the South Side of Chicago would learn
About the ballet, symphony, opera and great
Theater in Nashville and then Louisville while
Listening to the radio play ever so sad,
Soul wrenching songs by George Jones
And Tammy Wynette and then hearing first
Hand about their several affairs — a repeated
One with a former parishioner of his from
His first congregation, a rural church near
The Tennessee border — a guy who would
Walk the sawdust trail for the umpteenth time
Each time Tammy said goodbye to him and
Hello once again to George? He never dreamed
He would be so close to celebrity, especially not
In rural Kentucky at an alter call at a  spring
Revival.