Tag Archives: political poems


pointing fingers

Stop saying
how is this is happening here

Start saying 
this is being done here

Stop saying
this is being done here

Start saying
they are doing this here

pointing fingers

at those who do

Start recalling
this is not the first time

Stop saying
how is this is happening here

Start saying 
for some this is how it’s always been

wringing your hands

Stop pretending any of this
is new or out of character

gesturing at old paper

reading old paper

pointing at old paper

saying “But…but…” when you do

pointing fingers

ignoring your mirror

The Color Of Snow

Isn’t snow always
remarkable? Although
it’s not snow
charming us, maybe,
as much as its 
volume, how
it falls so silently 
when there’s no
wind to push it. 
Then again it’s 
so difficult to manage
at times, sticking around,
adhering to ground and 
pavement, to our vision
and never mind our freedom
to move; how about
the child from my hometown
who fell into a drift
outside his front door and
wasn’t found until spring?
Snow did that, drew him
into its maw and 
killed him. How missed
he was, right there on his own
land, his parents’ death-ache
palpable all over town
that winter when all you could see
everywhere was —
ah, clarity — White.
It’s silly to fear the snow
just for its color,
they tell me, but when considering
my own history, I have to speak up:
try to understand, I don’t fear the snow
for its color as much as I’ve learned
to fear the color itself and how it 
warps the picture outside my front door
without a word — so silent,
so heavily insistent, so 

Tiger’s Way

With apologies to John, Michelle, Cass, Denny…and all of you

All the world is curds
and the air is whey
I hopped on a bus
and ran on Guy Fawkes’ Day
I’d be under fire
if I’d chosen to stay
Surrealists are in charge
This is the tiger way

Stopped to drink a beer
along the way
Shoved my face into the glass
and sucked those suds away
Ordered up another
No point in sobriety
When everything’s infected
in the body of society

The milk of kindness curdles
The blood of caring clots
If I go for a walk
I won’t attempt to pray
because I think it’s pointless
expecting to be saved
We wait to be devoured
as we walk the tiger’s way

Hen And Chicks

It’s a neighbor with a bad car
parked on the street
without plates, the cops
hovering around then having it towed.
It’s the couple screaming at 
each other on the sidewalk and 
one of them tears a rock out of your wall, 
raising it overhead, and now
it’s your concern. Did they screw up
the succulents that grow there,
the hen and chicks? You yell down from
the bedroom window to put it back.
That breaks the anger spell.
They leave after tossing the rock
onto the top of the wall.
You will replace it later
now that all is well and after
the tow truck leaves with the bad car?
It’s almost as suburban out here as it is back home
where high school friends live who say
“the city is a cesspool” and trot around
boastfully shaking their heads at me 
from their beautiful yards 
where the hen and chicks grow from holes
artfully cut into the sides of barrels 
transformed into planters they bought
at the hardware store down the street
from the place where that guy 
stabbed another guy in the back of the head
at a lazy evening barbecue a couple of years ago,
an isolated incident among isolated people,
insulated people who choose to turn away. 
To those high school friends I say:
welcome to the cesspool
where I see my shit and name it
while you hide yours.
In the longest of long runs
it all smells the same. 
It all spills out eventually
just like those tough little plants do when they 
bloom, long translucent stems and flowers
drooping out of barrel holes and stonewall cracks,
trying to make the best
of wherever they find themselves.

They Are Yelling At Me

I don’t know who they are
but they keep yelling at me:

Enough, enough! What’s with
the moaning, all the doom-poems?

You are sitting in a warm-enough room.
You are still warm to the touch.

Look out the window at that one cardinal.
There’s the woman across the street

starting her Jeep. There’s so much going on
that isn’t the direct result of some tragedy.

Write a damn love poem,
they say. An ice-cream poem,

cool and sweet. A feather pillow poem,
soft and easy to clutch. A poem with 

a roar-shaped kiss. A metric ton
of roar-shaped kisses, in fact. Why

the constant scream of pain and 
anger at how the worms of money and hate

twist through all our guts
all day and night? Write us

out of that with a love poem,
a bird poem, a stars in your eyes poem

or two or three hundred, Mr. Prolific,
Mr. I Got Words For Everyone, Buddy?

All my poems are love poems, I answer back.
I wouldn’t stand for them if they were not.

I would not be here with them clustered around me
if I did not think they held love within.

The poems with the guns will do what’s right
for love.  The poems full of moans are the echo

of wishing for better. Every word
may taste like rocky road

to a parched and bitter mouth.
And why is there roaring at all in these words

if not to speak of love for the world as loudly as I can
in the face of so many teeth and such greedy claws? 

They don’t answer. They never do.
I wish I could do anything else but this.

This morning I shall settle at the keyboard
to put flowers upon all the unmarked graves.

It’s not a living. It’s a life.
Shh, I tell them. Enough, enough. 

As American As Petting A Bison

Some context for this: 

How To Lose Your Pants By Being Dumb

If I were to become a bully
I’d do my business
righteously, historically.

I’d fill my raging belly
with ghost egret flesh,
drink nothing but spectral bison’s tears,

grow horns
the size of a railroad car
and start looking around

for a bison-petting tourist with 
jeans and blood to spare.
Watch them run away after trying 

to pet me. Thinking
I’m tame. Believing the 
schoolbooks they’d seen.

You’d think I’d have learned
about how such behavior
tends to pan out over time.

You’d think that — and you’d
be wrong. This is mild. It isn’t about 
replicating their history of violence.

There’s a whole country out there
the wants us lovable enough
to keep on a shelf in the living room.

Someone’s got to set them straight
in the name of survival. Put them
pantsless on the hook

for everything 
they never learned in school
or subsequently.

It’s not their fault, you say,
that they bought the myth they were sold.
But it is. It’s not like 

they haven’t been told.
Anyway, I’m starting small.
No need to panic yet. 

Your jeans 
don’t begin to pay off
what was stolen, but it’s a start.

The Mad King

There are very few clues to find
when exploring how
he became this narrow. 

His permanent record
barely explains anything
as no one ever felt much need

to put notes in there.
His employment file
describes his mild job history,

annual satisfactory reviews,
merely adequate
bumps in pay year upon year. 

Tax returns tell nothing
and there’s nothing of note
in the newspapers of record. 

So how he got to
hollering about the “woke mob”
that’s killing him, is a puzzle

when there’s no sign of damage
from anyone in his history. 
It all looks pretty clean.

Except for the bullshit 
on his tongue, he could be anyone.
That may be the problem: perhaps

he thought he should be exalted
for being so much like 
what he’d been told he should be

that when being ordinary and 
bland and safe-pale was not enough
by itself to make him king,

he drew a sword on his face
and stepped up and out screaming 
for his kingdom.

He makes it up
as he marches along
behind the bulls, feeding. 

East Palatine Newspaper Poem

It’s not Chernobyl.
What it is
is East Palatine,
Ohio and it’s big,
it’s as big as miles around.

It’s not nuclear but
it is a big-ass gas burst
with a lot of dead chickens
underneath and maybe dogs
and maybe people but

we don’t know because
what it is,
is embarrassingly
lethal. There’s a lot of 
mouths to be sewn shut,

but it is not as silent as capitalism
which right now is busy
selling gas masks and 
burial plots and refusing
to look anyone in the eye — 

after all it’s not Fukushima;
what it is won’t be washed away
with the next tsunami or 
“natural disaster.” As it is
it’s not all that famous yet

and we really don’t know enough
to do anything but ignore it.
It’s not a spy balloon, not a UFO
falling from on high. Just a train
off the rails and a death plume.

Not anything
like a football game.
It won’t be in the headlines
tomorrow. Cross your fingers
and hope it isn’t what it is. 

Bring Us The Flood

In some part of The Land
there’s been more rain
than they can handle

but not here, where we long
for rain and pray for The Land
to come back into Balance. 

What if this is Balance?
Some say it is and the Land
is behaving as it should.

We are the Fulcrum 
upon which the Balance
has come to rest.

Some say, it is what it is. Some say
those words are themselves
the blunt tip upon which

the Fulcrum has come to rest
and the reason the Balance
wobbles like a weak priest

in a confessional, shaking
as he listens to sins in a voice
he knows so well.Too well.

All I know is that the rain
is elsewhere, not here. We
do what we can to maintain

Balance. We shiver or we burn
and tell each other to take hold
and hang on. It is what it is:

the Balance is not in our favor
and unlikely to come to us now. 
That’s the nature of Balance: 

it settles, eventually, come rain
or come shine. There’s a reason
some say it that way: it is 

what it is,
come rain or come shine,
easy come, easy go.

It’s been years now since
we’ve seen rain. Listen to 
The Land. Bring us now the Flood. 

Things You Can Do Once You Are Dead, Apparently

to our
better natures.

Soften public
opinion toward
your parents. 

Annoy and afflict others
with memories of how you lived
and died.

Suggest a better world 
for those who remain,
eventually. At least

a lesson 
on the way there.

There’s rotting
to be done. There are
cheap shots to be taken

at your expense.
Absorb and deflect them
and in fact cease caring

for what strikes you,
as you were unable to do
in your last live minutes.

Lie there until
someone grows a conscience
and replants it elsewhere.

Feed it 
on your name
and last words.

Water it 
with unruly streams
of your blood and tears. 

Fade from it, or do not.
Not for everyone,
not for long years. 

A Little Distance Between

More than a little 
distance between 
me in a car
being pulled over
for speeding or bad light
or something or other
or nothing at all

and the ones
(you know the ones I mean)
who don’t drive away
from being pulled over
for speeding or bad light
or something or other
or nothing at all

I’ve got my head
in my hands
most days when
I sit on the couch
and think about
how the news plays
on and on the same

look at me there with
my head in my hands 
as I sit on my butt
I’m a circle a wheel
a stone in a catapult
I just can’t
launch myself

through my TV screen
into the fire around
the scenes on screen so instead
I’ll drive fast and carelessly
into the next city town village over
See what happens — aw go on
Nothing’s gonna happen most likely

Most likely the worst
that can happen is a wreck 
and I’ll just be a tragedy
of my own making
The lights will be blue and benign
The tones of the news anchors  
will be mournful resigned

In the next life
I wanna be a boulder
no one can find a use for
until I’m hurled a little distance
over the walls of a fortress
I can wait till the next life
for someone else to get justice

One Over

They long to be

People who are not
in their places want to be
anywhere but where they sit

seeming to be

and ease don’t look
the same on everyone

They long to be
elsewhere and

it feels like my duty
to assist them and help
move them along

to their next place
It’s a sacred duty

We have a right
to move the uncomfortable 
to where they belong

and these people
clearly don’t belong

here in my neighborhood
They are smiling but
they look so lost

whenever we make eye contact
They look like they’d be happier

one street over
One town over
One country over

Adjusting The Woke Curriculum

They live for 
their children
only through their

All they will grow to know is
how to love a bullet and 
how to scorn what a bullet
can cut.

They say we’re in a shorn world now,
skinned of warmth and softness.
No learning to be found in anything now
but tales of flame and steel.

So what’s with
that sobbing kid 
poking with a stick
at the just killed rabbit in the gutter 

in the front of the neighbor’s house?
Must be queer. Must be damaged.
Get him out of sight, root through
his books, then shoot or set fire

to what ails him.

Poison, Venom, Infection

There’s danger
in poisonous lands and water;
simply being there
and breathing
is enough to make you
sicken and die.

There’s danger
among the venomous;
if you know
where to look
and how to armor up
you may walk there but

if you
blow your cover
and your armor fails,
a single sting 
may get through
and be enough. 

There’s danger
where the infectious
roam free, spewing 
plagues and slipping germs
past your defenses when you thought
you’d done enough.

You can’t stay safe inside forever;
you are going to have to leave
the safe house one day.
Down the block, all over the country,
you see houses with trouble flags
and deadly yard signs.

Is the air around them infectious?
Are your neighbors in fact venomous?
Are these signs that the whole damned world
is poisonous and this is what 
a mass casualty event looks like as it begins?
Are you enough for whatever comes next?


is what 
we thought 
was most likely
to kill us 
when I was
a grade school kid

and why 
we believed
it was out of 
“stranger danger”
that the End and the Evil
would come

all the news
all the way
through USSR and PRC
to PLO and ISIS
initials that stood for
the Other

till one day
it became as clear to us
as blood
on a forensic slide
that MAGA could kill
without pressing a button

that without
a single ICBM launch
it had been war
against us from back
when it was called

which I learned 
as a kid
we’d crushed or
relegated to history
with a hey nonny nonny
we shall overcome

what we learn 
out of school these days
is that nowadays and always
look next door instead of overseas 
for the End and the Evil
as your neighbor’s face

might hold
a loaded silo
a bastard flag
an LOL and a J/K
waiting to open
and let the Great Death fly