Needing a Bright, Shining Star On a Very Dark Night

“Dark, dark, dark, scary, scary, scary.
You may not like me, but you do need me,”
hinting darkly at white supremacy.
Demagogues from Ancient Greece,
through history echo today,
yelling from podiums to lemmings’ glee.
“The loss of memory
by a nation is also a loss
of its conscience,” a poet did say.
Where, oh, where is Whitman
when you need him —
a poet of peace, love, progress and hope
in the midst of the dark Civil War?
Once again, ever and always
we need such a bright, shining star.

Always the Bottom Line

“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
–Ronald Wright, A Short History of Progress, Misattributed to John Steinbeck

Disgruntled whites walk the
streets of Cleveland waving
posters in front of the T.V.
cameras, “Socialism Doesn’t
Work.” Blue collar, disgrunt-
led, ordinary, not particularly
pretty, out of shape whites,
left overs from the Tea Party
— the base, the pundits call
them, sit in the convention
center cheering the illusion
before them — That’s Entertain-
ment!”
On stage — a mere
man reputed to have little hands
walks out of the smoke as if by
magic, to be greeted by wannabes,
then beautiful, white millionaires
and billionaires, thousand dollar
suits, thousand dollar dresses,
thousands and thousands of dollars
in plastic surgery, foreign accents,
Greta Garbo in Flesh and the Devil,
parade on stage in all their finery.
They toss red meat to the hungry
crowd but never think to ask them
over for dinner and drinks, Beef
Wellington and Russian vodka.
The Big Lie plays on, the crowd
roars, nobody in the booth calls
it for what it is afraid of losing
a job, fired by the corporate wigs
who sit at home nursing a small
batch bottle of bourbon, very
much in vogue, checking the ratings
and thinking about the bottom line,
always the bottom line.

I Do Know the Difference

I do know the difference
between Watson and Holmes
but I don’t know the difference
between watts and ohms,
but through the power of
inductive reasoning,
which Holmes actually used,
I applied some little gray cell
seasoning to the problem at hand
and set to reasoning
why the outdoor lights
around the pond didn’t work
not wanting my responsibilities to shirk;
then my wife placed the plug
back in the outlet;
the lights once again did work,
and I stood there feeling just like a jerk.

Now Forty-Three

Her mom died at forty-nine
when she was twenty. Now
forty-three and a family of
her own, she chit chats
with a good friend from
college about the start of
gray at the temples. When
her father’s friend entered
the room, not having met
her before, he wondered
where he had seen that
face. He remembered and
said, “You look so much
like your beautiful mother.”
She teared, bit her lips
shook her head as if to
gain composure and hoped
he hadn’t seen the tears.
The friend hadn’t but her
father had as he wiped away
a tear of his own.

Silent Screams In Chicago

Black on black -- the lone headline 
reads, “…another violent weekend in Chicago                             
that saw seven people killed and at least                                   
52 wounded. The toll brings the number                                     
of people shot in Chicago this year to
nearly 2,000. At least 329 of them               
have been killed, about 100 more than                 
this time last year.” 

Headline gone, on with the news
corporate America says.
Who screams for Chicago?  

Black on white especially black on 
white police and headlines
scream all over social 
media but who hears                                        
the screams in Chicago?                                                                             

Guernica in the city. Mouths all over                                        
the South and West sides open in 
panic but no scream is heard -- just 
like Guernica, eyes wide open in 
Chicago, even the horse’s eyes
loom large in panic and fear, 

BUT                                                            

eyes wide shut everywhere in places 
of privilege. What more do we need
to know about where the power resides?  
Not on the South and West sides.                                                      

Who is important? Where are the elite? 
Well, we all know where they are, just 
listen and look. Do black lives matter?  
Blacks on blacks, who cares? 

Whites scream bloody murder, buy                                            
guns but who hears the                                                                             

screams in Chicago? 

Who   
screams?

A Rainbow Baby

The black, female medical
professor said that there are
not different races like black,
white, yellow, brown. There

is just one race, the human
race. That race is wonderfully
filled with different skin tones
and hues like those found in

the greatest paintings. Tones
and hues rather than colors.
Colors is too stark a word
like races. All the colors are

just tones and hues of one
color. His daughter, descend-
ent of fair-skinned Northern
European and Scandinavian

humans who hail from where
the sun doesn’t shine much,
yearned for the beautiful black
and brown skin of her sister

humans south and east who
need more melanin simply
for protection from the sun.
If we combine all the tones

and all the hues of humans
we would have our new
grandson, who is a rainbow
coalition of love and can’t

be prejudiced against anyone
because he is everyone,
and we can’t wait for the day,
his parents test God’s

beautiful painting,
the child’s, glorious DNA.

If There Were Not Light

If there were not light,
    	we could not see 
		our shadow.
If there was not a shadow,
	we would not be able 
		to see 
			the light,
for the light would be 
	a lie
and we would be living 
	in the shadow 
		we don’t see,
but the light shines 
	in the darkness
		enabling the shadow
to become a friend 
	to me.

The Country We Need Be

Emma Lazarus in 1883
wrote the words
some of which adorn the
Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Now in great fear we shout
“Keep them out!”
and buy guns more and more
ready to kill them
when they cross the border
and before they land on shore,
and all we accomplish is
to fill each other with bullet holes
as we sacrifice our national soul.
Guns and more guns we hoard and hoard
not knowing that those who
“Live by the sword, die by the sword.”
So hearken to words eternal
and let go of hate infernal:
“Fear not,” and trust that “the fruit
of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,”
so brothers and sisters, “let us put
on a heart of compassion, kindness,
humility, gentleness and patience;
bearing with one another, and for-
giving each other….Beyond all
these things put on love, which
is the perfect bond of unity.”
and maybe, just maybe
we could become the
great country
we need to be —
a shining flame of
liberty.

When You Walked In

When you walked in you could
have said what a lot of people
around here would have said,

“Wow! I would never have re-
cognized you. You have changed
so much,” and they wouldn’t

have meant for the better, but
you, after twenty years, said,
“I would have recognized you

anywhere,” and then when you
saw my daughter you thought,
I think I’ve seen her before,

and then you realized that
you had not met her but that
she looked like her beautiful

late mother and you told her
so and tears of gratitude rose
in her eyes, and then after

an evening together and many,
many more sincere compliments
from you about my wife’s art,

about the dinner she prepared,
talk of the forty-eight year
history of our knowing each

other and the recounting of
your wonderfully rich life,
we hugged, said goodbye and

I realized anew what an incredibly
nice human being you are and
how privileged I am to know you.

An Abandoned Nest

The male stood guard on a
branch above and then below
and around while the female

painstakingly placed the twigs
in just the right spot weaving
them together into a tight,

reliable cradle for the precious
eggs which would be home for
Cardinal offspring. But they never

used it. All that work and
they never used it. The man
waited and waited in anti-

cipation of a front row seat
to the birthing, feeding and
nurturing right outside his

study window, but nothing. The
nest was abandoned before be-
ing used. He saw a Cowbird there

one day. Did the bird leave
its scent and violate the sanc-
tity of the home? No female Cow-

bird surreptituously slipped
in leaving her eggs in the nest
for the hardworking builders

to function as surrogates for
the lazy thieves. And then the
man wondered if it was his fault.

Did the birds see him on the
other side of the glass between
the slats of the blinds? Was he

the intruder on their privacy?
He sits looking at the abandoned

nest feeling sad and somehow
responsible, in the classic human
response of placing himself in

the center of what’s going on
as if the birds couldn’t possibly
have a life of their own without

any reference to human behavior.