Tag Archives: Icon series

Requirements

Start reimagining 
that flag
is a door anytime
you see it 
upended. See it
as a locked door
with a code
to enter. 

Start picturing
an eagle
in tears, starving
because it’s exhausted
and cannot feed
with its wings up
and its talons full
like that for all
these years.

Start wondering
what’s under 
your Uncle Sam’s 
hat, why he
looks so pissed
as he points at you:
you thought you
were tight, after all
you’re family or
so you were told.

Start wondering
where that dollar bill
has been, where
they’ve all been. Start
thinking about them
in your pocket, your hand,
resting on your bare skin;
who paid for what with them
before they came to you.

Start imagining
how hard
you will have to kick
to take down that door.
Think about what might be on
the other side
until your foot
twitches without you
willing it.


Describe The Glass

Here stands
the glass.

Here stands
the question: is it
half full or half empty?

Of course we know,
intellectually,
that it’s full, always. 
Whatever that clear
liquid is, it stops where
the air begins and thus
the glass is filled with both
at once in equal measures.

To press the metaphor further,

let us pose the question
another way:
how do you feel
about water, how do you feel
about air?  Which do you
side with in your observation
of the glass before you?

If you choose air,
do you say what’s there is enough
to fill and overflow and
thus the glass is brimming 
of air, air laden with traces
of war from world over or wildfires
from half a continent over,
air which the world calls clean
and then says that
is the same thing as being 
half empty? 

If you choose water — 
do you assume what you see 
is water? Perhaps it is not,
but let us assume for the press
of metaphor that it is;
let us further assume 

it is clean water,
unadulterated, water not from, say, 
Flint or Standing Rock, with
no added solids to complicate 
the question; do you choose
water with all its uncertainties
and say the glass is bottom-full 
of water, which the world says
is the same as being half full?

There plays the news,
there lies the country — 

when you look at the news,
when you look at the country,
is the glass half full
or half empty? 
If half full, is your half full
a clean fill, if half empty,
is your half empty
crisp and honest?

When the metaphor is pressed
will you say that in truth it’s
nothing but shattered 
and the space where it was 
is now broken and boundless,
full only of wind and flood 
and storm and poison?

There stands the question.
There stands the glass.
There you stand between them,

asked to describe
the state of the 
glass when you aren’t sure
there is any glass
there at all. 


Pitchforks

American Gothic is a very famous painting
Experts like to argue about which America it’s about
But one thing I think we can all agree on
is that the picture is centered on a pitchfork

We like to think we’re better than them
We like to think we’re beyond all that
We like to think we’re not the ones
who are supposed to hold the pitchfork

Our biggest problem 
is that out of an excess of kindness
we’ve let the other side pick up
all the torches and pitchforks

No one’s scared of
any of us because 
we said “this can’t be happening”
instead of “where’s my pitchfork”

Stop thinking of it as the exclusive tool of the devil
It’s just another tool on the rack
We can’t make hay while our sun dims
unless we learn our way around a pitchfork

Boycotts chants and votes all matter
and they matter even more when
it’s clear that behind the words
are the tines of a forest of pitchforks

And it is good to punch the obvious ones
but we’ll eventually have to get around
to watching a billionaire wriggle
on the end of a pitchfork

So go and look at that painting
Put yourself in it whoever you are
No one in there looks happy but they sure as hell
have a solid hold on that blessed pitchfork


The Flying Monkeys

The flying monkeys flew in
from Oz to suburbia
and landed just in time
for Sunday dinner.

Sat there on the neat margins
between the sidewalks and the curbs —
crouching on the fresh cut grass,
shitting on the blade savaged dandelions. 

Did you know there is a word
for that strip of green between?
It’s called “the verge.” The flying monkeys
were on the verge

that Sunday. Jackets,
hats, attitudes intact, acting
exactly as we’d expect: tails tucked,
wings folded, waiting for orders.

Down the block from here
someone cracked a screen door
and said, “You look hungry. Why don’t you
come in for a bite,” to the ones

perched outside their house.
One by one the monkeys filed inside.
The neighborhood was dead quiet.
What was going on in there?

The monkeys came out hours later
dressed in the clothes of the folks
who had invited them in, who followed
the monkeys 
naked into the streets,

who stood passive as they were taken
and lifted 
and carried higher and higher,
seeming to rise almost forever
until they vanished; 
then some among us

rushed to proclaim this
the Rapture at last while others
simply laughed and clapped their hands
along with the suddenly welcome

flying monkeys and their magical
flight plans, and more and more
stripped and flew, stripped and flew,
and the monkeys took over

their empty homes and their jobs,
their routines. They folded up 
their wings tight under T-shirts
and mowed the lawns and even

the verges, sat out sunning themselves
in their yards in swimsuits, their tails
slung lazily to one side of the lounge chairs
or the other. That’s how it’s been for a while now;

now and then, a distant scream; now and then,
decomp on the wind as if somewhere
there’s a huge and growing pile of broken bodies
in a valley just beyond the verge of sight.

Those of us left aren’t saying much.
There are a lot of monkeys around,
and frankly we can’t tell the difference
anymore. Not sure

who’s giving the orders about
who flies and who gets flown, who rises
and who falls. We fret, we fear,
we whisper to each other that old line,

“these things must be done delicately,”
even though it’s clear 
that for the monkeys, that’s no longer true:
no. No, they most certainly do not.