Our Gilded Age

Capitalism has become
what Marx
knew it would become —
the all-owning, all-consuming
until nothing is left to be
and what is owned
is owned
by a hand-full of
greedy, avaricious
individuals for whom
“it,” whatever commodity
“it” is, isn’t ever enough and
those hollowed-out
individuals hire
lobbyists to convince
legislators and the
to vote and act
on their behalf
because the elected
officials will
get lots of money
to convince people
through half-truths
and all-out lies to
vote them back
into office so they
can continue to
pass legislation
in favor of the
few who
while people
sink in the
polluted soil
and suck
fouled air
and drink
water and
who don’t
have enough
money to
buy the poison
foods and shabby
products and
they can’t get
the medical
treatment for
all their ills
and they die
and the monster
to eat it’s own
product and
it consumes
is poisoned
and collapses
under its own
weight in
the Grand Canyon,
the canyon
with toxins
and finally
an excruciating
and everyone and
and there isn’t
even a proletariat
to rise.

Good Girl. Want a Cookie?

I looked into our culture’s snooty judgment
which almost made me cry
and then I looked into my beautiful
Chocolate Lab’s unconditionally loving eye
at which point I stated, “Girl, you have made
that which would have made my butt fry
into an affirmation of love
which reaches to the great big, beautiful, blue sky.
Good girl, good girl. Want a cookie?”

wouldn’t you think?

for every action, there is an equal and
opposite reaction could have been the
sign over the door of his high school
physics class. perhaps it should be a
sign over every door like the command-
ments of the lord or blood splatter on
every door so the angel of death would
pass by. wouldn’t you think, he wonders,
the profane and despicable coming out
of the white house would evoke a reaction
that would be the opposite like a festival
of the sacred, of courtesy, kindness, en-
couragement, ennobling, even people be-
ing nice to each other on the roadways?
but no, he just sits staring at the tv watch-
ing a (p)-resident rally swearing up such
a storm that the chocolate lab moves away
in an equal and opposite reaction, thus
reasserting the truth of newton’s third
law of motion. the man concedes that
once again he is trumped by the dog.
then he hears the ghost of his physics
teacher, “opposite is direction not
value. unfortunately, your rant
got it right. you became an english
major didn’t you? figures.”

Hope for Earth and Sky, a Sestina

He looked out upon the budding trees,
his vision lifted beyond to the blue sky —
a pale blue in contrast to the blue water
which splashes upon the rocky earth.
Upon the shore someone had lit a fire
next to a freshly budding flower.

He sat and stared at the flower
waiting for buds to flower on the trees.
The wind blew strongly on the fire
as hot, red sparks flew to the sky
falling back black toward the earth
and drown in the deep blue water.

Waves carried ashes upon the water.
Rather than lingering, his future was the flower.
He needed his feet planted firmly on the earth
like roots going deep to hold the budding trees
whose branches reach to the cool blue sky
while embers continued to burn in his heart’s fire.

Would memories burn like a perpetual fire
or would his anguish be quenched by cool water
so his soul could soar once more to the sky
while embracing the reawakening spring flower
and beholding the emerging leaves of trees
with roots planted firmly in the earth.

Was his dream shattered by a scorched earth?
Would his hopes all burn in the consuming fire?
Would the flames leap up to consume the trees?
Would it all be saved by the baptismal water?
Would the water quench the thirsty flower?
Would the air be pure throughout the sky?

Humanity’s hopes reach beyond the sky
while hoping for the salvation of the earth
so that dreams and desires might flower
and burn eternal in the spirit’s fire
never to be quenched by deadening water
but exalting in the upward arms of trees.

Ah, rejoice in the spring flower, shouts the sky
as trees give thanks for the foundation of earth
and in harmony for eternity are fire and water.

This, Too, Shall Pass?

He keeps saying, “This, too, shall pass,”
but then he wonders how long it will last.

He’s thankful for a Republic with votes
for on such the Ship of State floats.

But he’s concerned when powers flounder
potentially causing the ship to founder.

What’s at stake for the Ship of State
is saving democracy before it’s too late.

So he hopes that level heads prevail
even if that means some shall go to jail.

We must appeal to the greater good
and a constitution that is understood

and followed by the three branches
so the Republic doesn’t end in ashes.

Yes, this, too, surely shall pass
hopefully, before sinking into a
horrendous morass.

A Legacy of Lies

Apparently, he doesn’t
know he is mortal,
that one day he will die
leaving a legacy of lies.

Wouldn’t he want to leave a legacy
of compassion and mercy?
Wouldn’t that be wise?

(A writer recommended that
each of us envision our funeral
and what we would want said
about us through and through
as a way of behaving now
so that those things will
be true.)

Perhaps he should approach the
statue of Ozymandias
as a wake up call
before the Grim Reaper’s scythe
does fall.

Otherwise his epitaph might read:

Ozymandias inherited
a sea of sand;
an ocean of lies
swallowed this man.
Here lies
a child of Beelzebub,
Lord of the Flies.

The Ghost He Has Become*

Stubble now creeps up from his beard
into the hair on the sides of his head --
blond early on,
   brown latter on down,
      black in middle age,
blond back 
after many years;
gray wasn’t what he feared;
white was ahead,
pointing the way 
to when he would be dead.

He stands and 
   looks in the mirror seeing 
      the ghost he has become --
unresolved tragedy,
   unfinished business,
      unnecessary necessities.

*idea from a meditation by Frederick Buechner