Poem: The Band Plays On

Following a crescendo of violence,
an allegro jubilee of relief and release
brings us all a moment of respite
before resuming the rhythm of the rigour
and ardor of unflinching struggle.

And a young woman tells us we can
be the light if we dare, and her innocence
gives us new hope and a new cadence
for resolute strides to an unknown
future of heat, yes, but also illumination.

Still, this isn’t a cadenza, but a restrictive
repair, a scaffolding of democratic skills,
a dampening of fear and a regrouping
of willing collaborators marching forward
on the promise of hope and camaraderie.

And the band plays on, because the music
of justice has no coda, only refrains.

A Moment of Sunlight

Everywhere he went,
he confronted peace and
rumours of peace.

Each dawn, he would follow
the light on rising roads
and find fellowship with companion
travellers and comfort with locals
sharing a spirit of cooperation.

As the sun passed over,
he and new neighbours he met
would break bread, drink
and laugh with abandon.

With evil vanquished and animosity
dimmed, the world awaited eternity
with clear eyes, dry cheeks
and a pacific breast.

Finally actualised, he sees a reality no
longer tenuous, but one girded on the
impervious foundation of
enlightened belief.

Silence Never Ends

I never thought John Cage was
trying to tell us anything about silence.
He told us music never stops,
only listening does,
and what if we never stop
listening? What if we become
so accustomed to focusing
on sounds that we forget to
tune out and block and cocoon?

What if we love sounds
“as they are,” as he says?
Will we ever get anything done?
Or will we be swept away,
dancing to the garbage trucks,
crushing today’s refuse to bits?

Will we sway softly to our own
heartbeats or hum in tune to tinnitus?
We won’t distinguish between the
sounds of skates on the sidewalk
and the instructions of the arresting officer.

As our loved ones tell us we’re the
only one, we’ll be listening to the
dripping of a loveless faucet
or the groaning of a protesting
gate hinge forced to give way.

We will live in a constant stream
of unconnected moments,
drowning in the music God
sent to save our souls.

Poem: Champagne and Sunflowers

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

In Galveston, Texas, you can’t always tell
the millionaires from the homeless, so
savvy businesses don’t assume the
slovenly won’t spend.

All the same,
The Sunflower Cafe is for
the relatively well-heeled,
serving a quiet Sunday brunch
for the sophisticated,
the students and professors,
the artists and seafarers.

So, see, the hostess was
always going to be polite
to the disheveled and slightly
drunk man who stooped up to
the doorstep on a Sunday morning
to ask If they were serving alcohol.

“Yes, sir,” she smiled,
“We have mimosas today.”

“Mimosa? What’s that?”

“It’s champagne with orange juice.”

“Champagne and orange juice! What the Hell?”

And with that, he shuffled off shaking his head
with more than a tinge of judgment for
the poor fools who knew what to do with
neither champagne nor orange juice.

Poem: The Unimagined Perils of Fire Pokers

“Did you put another log on the fire?”

As innocent as it was naive, the question
Intended no harm, no trespass
On the rigid boundaries of masculinity.

She didn’t have the image of Wittgenstein
Fending off rivals with a raised poker
In the halls of exalted moral science.

It didn’t throw her thoughts to a
Defensive Popper creating an instant,
Contemporary, and universal moral rule:

“Never put a poker in another man’s fire.”

[Note on poetic license: This doesn’t accurately describe what happened between Wittgenstein and Popper. A more accurate description is here. ]

Poem: On the Insignificance of Coffee

She tweeted that it was the 
worst day of her life.

They didn’t have her favourite
hazelnut soy milk for her latte,
and everything was ruined.

She singlehandedly spawned
the phrase “first world problems,”
And people started saying,
“Check your privilege” 
all the damned time.

She was aware of her privilege,
of course, and thought it would
be funny to exaggerate the tragedy
of a morning coffee gone slightly wrong.

It was meant to be ironic, 
but some people don’t see
the humour in angry rants about
insignificant events in daily life.

They are focused only on important matters.
For example, they worry about what God
people send their prayers, what kind
of sex people are enjoying, and whether 
people have acceptable clothing to
match their very real genitals.

We mustn’t be distracted by the 
insignificance of coffee.

Nursery Rhyme for the Apocalypse

Bill Barr, Bill Barr, you’ve gone too far.
You find the peasants revolting.
The CIA in your day
was grounds for fascist training.

No care at all, for the Rule of Law.
Democracy is fleeting.
Just shock and awe from secret police
as the jackboots go out beating.

(chorus)
Bill Barr, Bill Barr keep it up
pushing autocracy.
We‘ll stand, we’ll fight, we’ll even die
to save our democracy.   

You’ve made it clear that some lives
Really should not matter.
We’re here to say we have rights,
And we’re done with passive chatter.

We came in peace but stood our ground
And now your army can’t persist.
We’ll stand up tall, win or lose,
And we will always resist.

(chorus)
Bill Barr, Bill Barr keep it up
pushing autocracy.
We‘ll stand, we’ll fight, we’ll even die
to save our democracy.   

No final win and no final loss
Will cause the struggle to cease.
You think you’ve won, but you’ll soon find out
without justice, you’ll never have peace. 

(chorus)
Bill Barr, Bill Barr keep it up
pushing autocracy.
We‘ll stand, we’ll fight, we’ll even die
to save our democracy.   

Poem: The Pogrom Approaches

It’s just because we used to see all these moronic looking jerks just strolling around through town trying to look tough with their AR-15s and Sig Sauers for no real reason, and we just laughed at them, because what were they even doing? I mean, they were like cartoons in these stupid trucks with big tires and all these stupid flags waving all over the place and everything. I mean, you know what I’m talking about, right? They were just these fringe idiots trying to get a little attention, and then, you know, these people start showing up dressed the same way and shooting at people and grabbing people off the street, and we don’t know who’s who, anymore. We don’t know what’s going to happen, and no one really knows what’s going on, but everyone knows it isn’t right. I mean, even a little child knows it isn’t right for anyone to just go around grabbing people and terrifying them like that, especially when they done nothing wrong and all, but it ain’t right, anyway, to just take people like that—violating their God given rights and everything. There’s no way to know when they are going to be shooting real bullets or so-called “less lethal” bullets. There’s no way to know if you’re going to jail or the grave. And you sort of just say your prayers, and you say, “God help me now or let me die doing what I know is right.” And you just go and stare them in the face again, because they want to see you run, but you know if you run, no one will ever be free again. 

Poem: Eternal Recurrence and Damnable Regrets

It was a misunderstanding, really,
or a slip of the tongue,
or maybe he really was
just a major asshole.

Whatever, he felt the rising burn
in his cheek and the glow of his ears
whenever he thought of it,
and it played on an interminable
loop in vivid detail in both
waking memories and lucid dreams.

There’s nothing to be done now, 
he thought, no exit from past decisions.
Redemption is impossible and
Salvation a mere myth of mortals.
He would always be what he always was.

As he stared at the fan on the ceiling,
he only wished he had chosen his
words more carefully.