A writer wrote that he never truckled,
that he told it as he saw it,
what he understood to be truth
and what he later still understood to be truth,
but he died at thirty-two,
so he didn’t have to suffer
the consequences of his refusal to truckle
in judgment, rejection, reaction from fear
and perhaps even physical violence.
The terminal violence of a burst appendix
saved him from such potential violence.
Maybe he wouldn’t have cared and
would have continued never to truckle
even if someone twisted his arm and
told him to cry uncle.
We’ll never know,
but we can admire the man
who never truckled
from a distance, in a time
when leaders truckle
and continue to suckle
at the teat
of the biggest bully on the street,
called Fifth Ave,
where he totes a gun
and says he can shoot and
and can get away
and never have to pay.
Ah, for just one today
who wouldn’t truckle
his or her life away.
*on the anniversary of the day in 1933 that “the Nazi Party won 44 percent
of the vote in German parliamentary elections, enabling it to join with
the Nationalists to gain a slight majority in the Reichstag. Within three
weeks, the Nazi-dominated Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which gave
Hitler dictatorial powers and ended the Weimar Republic in Germany”
The Writer’s Almanac, March 5, 2019.
they have the burden,
or is it the privilege,
of seeing it all,
all the utter humanness
of the preacher, the bad
moods and then the
saccharin sweet smile
for the parishioner, the
shouts in the evening
and then the prayers
at breakfast, the sweaty
smells from jogging and
then the Old Spice
floating out from under
the robe and collar.
yes, they have the burden,
or is it a privilege to
see it all, all the utter
humanness of the preacher.
There is an edge that is gone;
sharp, not in a way that would wound,
but keen, intense, alive at dawn.
Oh, if ever such an edge be found.
The edge was dulled with death,
sudden, swift, hammered upon an anvil.
Years have gone and her breath
still catches in her chest, a shell.
The doctors adjure suffering transformed
to compassion is a cure for the best.
Still…to have that edge of innocence reformed
in a yearning, longing breast.
A white said to a white, “It’s time for blacks and
browns to put this whole racism thing behind them
and move on.” A black said to a brown, “It’s time
to tell the white to get out of denial and dry off.”
The brown said to the black, “Oh, and mention
that denial isn’t a river.” A red said, “Tell him
it’s time to move through the Red Sea.” A yellow
said, “To freedom for you and me. Jesus loves
the little children, all the children of the world,
red and yellow, black, brown and white, they are
precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children
of the world.” The evening’s leader said, “Please
stand, hold hands,” and they all began, “Our Father….”
If the Oval Office occupant were benign,
Probably everything would be just fine.
After all, it is quite entertaining
As long as the nation is sustaining,
But because he is such a malignant narcissist,
Everything seems to be going “psssst.”
The air is escaping the national balloon
And I wish the occupant was
A character in a harmless Looney Tune.
But that is not the case,
And from office, he must be chased,
So we can go back to securing the national balloon
Without fear of being mugged
By a gang that can’t shoot straight,
His New York mafia type goons.
I have a friend who is like
little balls of mercury on a table
And you have to corral them all together.
How are you able
to corral loose mercury on a table?
So I just hold my hands on the sides of the table
and hope to catch the
wild, little balls before they fall off,
because if they fell on the floor,
they might be stepped on and make
that many more
wild, little balls of mercury.
There’s no putting my friend
back in some conventional tube.
My friend is like toothpaste squeezed from the tube.
There’s no going back.
My friend can’t even be scooped.
And so, my friend remains
wild and crazy
and I still hold my hands
at the table’s edge
so my friend doesn’t fall off
and onto his head.
The words, like these, just sit
here flatter than a pancake and
yet, you just might have seen an
IHOP in your mind at the mention
of a pancake or seen one of IHOP’s
TV commercials of pancakes grow-
ing on a dish, grotesquely, like a sea
lamprey lifting itself out of the sea.
See? A lot going on here between these
flat, black words and you and me, not
to mention how really gross that com-
mercial is. And now I’m thinking about
a sponsored site I looked at touting the
most dangerous beaches in the world —
polluted, swarming with poisonous
snakes, hundreds of jellyfish, wild
animals, thieves, robbers and how
I’m really glad to live by the shore
of Lake Michigan and have ad blocker
on my computer so I wouldn’t have to
see all the ads while looking at danger-
ous seas. I’ll stop here because I’m
beginning to think about sun blocker
having written the words ad blocker
and I actually need some sun to tan
my pale, white head which doesn’t look
very good without some color on it but
it’s winter in the upper Midwest so
what is a guy to do and, no, I’m not going
to use a tanning booth which now makes
me think of the occupant of the Oval
Office and his tanning booth and his
orange, owl face to match his orange
and I really, really didn’t want to go
My Rocky Mountain running son,
in light of my purchase of traction
cleats for jogging in the snow,
that if I want to have fun,
to go slow
and pick up my foot
so as not to stumble over
any rock or root.
Wordsworth wrote that
the child is father to the man
and I’m just glad my
kid (now my metaphorical father)
came up with a winter jogging
“This was supposed to be a research paper, sir, not a short story.”
How many times did the man hear that over the years of college
and graduate school? (Thank the Lord for the recommendations
from fiction loving faculty: The kid’s got talent. Good luck
getting him to stop submitting poetry for statistical research.)
But the man had loved his English profs along the academic way,
one who came to class one day beaten up by his partner but still
got through act one of Julius Caesar but not quite to “Et tu, Brute?”;
the theatrical but stuttering English prof. who looked like
Falstaff, ate and drank too much and died of a heart attack at
fifty-two at his study desk at the University of London on a
faculty exchange; and the guy who looked like Ernest Hemingway,
also smoked too much and urged his students on a nice, warm spring
day to ditch class and go sit on a log in the woods. That prof. got
a condescending rap from his hyper-evangelical, snooty academic
relatives for not getting a Ph.D. and only settling for an MFA. He
was a rebel with a cause but he died young, too. The man doesn’t know
what happened to the not very closeted prof but the man hopes he and
his lover made up or that he eventually dropped the dude and found
true love. None of the three published much, but they loved their
subject and loved sharing that love. The man has never been physically
beaten; doesn’t smoke, isn’t obese and hopes to live to a ripe old
age, but in his own conventional way tries to strike a pose as a rebel,
too, by taking pride in the fact that he dropped that statistics class.
The spineless politicians,
who hedge their bets
and squirm around to please lobbyists
who represent rich worms
who love to make others squirm,
squirm their way through each day
And then they will pass away
and only will be known as the worms
who crawled and squirmed
and crawled about
and played pinochle
on the snouts
who also have died out.