Thursday, December 31, 2020
When a stranger smiles
as we pass on the street
I feel a smile spread across
my face like cream cheese
on a bagel. Now, mouths
concealed behind cotton masks,
we smile with our eyes.
It isn’t frivolous or phony to smile
this way; we need connection now.
Let’s remember this when
in a few months we might find
ourselves on separate banks,
enemies all along, with fear
in our hearts and guns
like coiled snakes
seething beneath our beds
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
“American exceptionalism? Exceptional at what? Waging wars against innocent people for fake reasons? Exceptional at what? Being addicted to pharmaceutical drugs that have people's minds wasted? Exceptional at what? Eating more junk food and becoming the most obese nation on Earth?”
Beneath the surface
Of American Exceptionalism
Lies the more arrogant and pernicious lies,
The lies every president and politician
Has told you all your life,
The lies you still believe, accept, and trust.
In an authoritarian voice,
They told you America is Exceptional,
Claiming the US
Is the leader of the free world,
And the world’s sole superpower.
When Big Corporations
Started looting America,
Because it affected you personally,
You started asking questions.
Why did Congress
Give Wall Street
And Big Corporations
$5 trillion dollars?
The largest upward transfer
Of wealth in US history,
A CARES ACT welfare gift
To the oligarchy,
While throwing crumbs
To small businesses
And the middle class
During the worst pandemic
In the history of the country.
While other industrialized countries
Continue to pay their workers
Putting cash directly in the hands
Of impacted workers.
Why did 40 million people
Lose their jobs?
Why did 14 million people
Lose their healthcare
When Congress could have passed
Medicare for All?
Why have 60% of small businesses
Why are 19 million people
Being evicted from their homes
On the last day of December?
Why were there thousands of cars
Lined up for miles
Waiting to receive food
From the North Texas Food Bank?
But not for our crumbling infrastructure
And not for the citizenry,
And not for safety nets for the poor?
Why isn’t Congress withdrawing troops
From over 800 bases
In 80 countries worldwide,
Which costs over 100 billion dollars
A year to support?
Why is the US still in Afghanistan,
After 19 years,
An unwinnable war,
The longest war in American history?
Why did Congress allocate
Another 740 billion dollars
Toward the military budget,
A budget already larger than
The next 10 countries combined?
When will you admit
American Exceptionalism is a myth?
Will it be when
You have a ventilator
Crammed in your mouth,
Brainwashed and arguing
COVID-19 is a political hoax?
You will ever see
Dressed in blue PPE,
Wearing a plastic shield
Over her face.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Things were supposed to be different
after sailing past the age your parents were
when you first met them, different at least
with the one that is still around
but an adulthood of mature
hopes, dreams, and triumphs
was not to be, childhood forgotten
no confessions, no reflections
phone calls from mom
last about ten minutes
small talk about the
weather and football before
the big immigrant take-over
and the Muslim communists
Biden put in charge
of the government
ten minutes before
sorry ma I think
there’s someone at the door.
Monday, December 28, 2020
Sunday, December 27, 2020
We used to bake marbles,
toss them into a bowl of ice;
we watched veins appear
and waited for the spheres
to crack apart, but they never did.
Today we’re watching fires
erupt from veiny cracks
in our republic and I’m thinking
of those marbles,
how they glistened in the beauty
of their new veins
but never broke open.
Saturday, December 26, 2020
This holiday there are empty chairs
at our table, fewer cards to write,
online contactless shopping.
We watch old black and white movies
decorate our home with icicle lights,
Christmas trees, red and green garlands.
Since March, we’ve isolated,
practiced social distancing,
cleaned every cupboard and closet.
While sheltering in place,
we grow accustomed to simplicity,
solitude, return to the basics.
In the past, we traveled to reunite
with our scattered tribes,
this year only gather through Zoom.
Friday, December 25, 2020
I should smash my face
against this table
I should smash my face
against your face
in an angry world motherfucker
it’s such an angry world
Every time it knocks
I stall & say not yet
but it keeps knocking
not yet, please not yet.
auld lang syne
vomit in a rusty tub
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Melania Trump 2017 Xmas Haiku
in a dress as white
as her dead tree branches she’s
clawing, ominous shadows up the walls
Melania Trump 2018 Xmas Haiku*
I’m working my ass
Off on this Christmas stuff, who
Gives a fuck about Christmas stuff
Melania Trump 2020 Christmas Decoration’s Haiku
This year packed with urns
Fifty to be exact
A sea of funeral arrangements
The Nightmare Before
Christmas Queen is right back
Not giving a fuck about Christmas
Here in the dead branches
The blood-red trees, and the funeral urns
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
It never felt so good to say goodbye.
You will no longer govern.
The world can breathe easier.
If you sink into oblivion,
the breathing will be that much
more easier and no one
can worry that tomorrow will be here. Our minds will be at peace.
Who is crying for you?
It must be only those who seek to destroy and tear down
our lives through violence.
Those who have a screw loose,
those who cannot love
a diversified city, they have
forged their hate with blood.
His followers are many.
Their souls have expired.
They have tunnel vision.
I will keep my distance
from their indifference
and avoid their hate.
From where do they come
in the name of destruction?
--Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozabal
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Monday, December 21, 2020
we see clearly now
in the aftermath
if we didn't before—
it's all a ruse
it always has been
your pachyderm skin
is but a cheap disguise
your professed Christianity
your fidelity to higher principles
your tough love of capital T Truth
all nothing but artifice and affectation
masking a whorish devotion
to the gods of worldly power
you probably sleep
with Machiavelli’s “The Prince”
under your pillows
and it's a good thing
you stand behind podiums
when you speak
otherwise we'd see the dirt
on your knees
I guess it's an acquired taste,
Sunday, December 20, 2020
Like a plucked chicken,
he squawks and struts.
Like a wounded animal,
he grunts and growls.
He’s got the kitchen
sink of lawyers
and lies to toss around
and see what sticks.
The lights are dimming.
The sun and stars
are no longer shining
on his dark soul.
It was never fun
and it lasted
much too long for us and
the world at large.
he has brainwashed
to follow his lead and
spread his hatred
for all he does not
the rule of law and for
Saturday, December 19, 2020
-General Mikolai Boltuc speaking about Commanding General Wladyslaw Bortnowski Battle of Tuchola Forest 1939
For four days in September
Bortnowski refused to believe in the existence of tanks.
and a refusal to retreat
this was reasonable.
Inside everything is recorded. In
life every conversation is
a conversation with yourself.
at work through a line of pine trees
to the east of my cubicle
out the window I heard
an ice cream truck selling my favorite
bright orange push-ups.
they had us wait
in the stairwell as a tornado
touched the tops of DFW’s tallest towers
this was reasonable.
Later a fifty-two year old co-worker
running back from lunch break
to be a minute late fell
and broke her shoulder
then was made
to wait four hours
crying in a seat outside the human
resources and attendance office
for permission to seek medical treatment
and not be terminated
in a call-center this is reasonable.
An orange sherbet sun
setting through the clouds
shines off a bloody palm-print smeared
on a cracked bit
of parking lot cement.
The trees in a distant
Polish woods reached once
brown bark slathered
and stamped in rust-red whorls
for the far-off fading orange
butter colored light.
Friday, December 18, 2020
there are cracks forming in the shell of this world,
forming in our sleep, and we don’t always see
them when we wake, when we work, when we
try to love and hurry and slow it all down and
suddenly we glance up, pause in place, and
there they are, a hairline fracture in the ceiling,
a suture in the wall, the house lilting just a bit,
just barely visible if you look hard, so hard,
but, hey, it’s fine, everything will be fine,
right? if we just leave it like that? there’s no
emergency, it seems to be holding itself upright
and the Tower of Pisa has been that way for
age upon age, so who’s worried about one more
filament of space and time broken away to dust?
one more shred of democracy? one more ounce
of human decency poured into the sewer drain?
and so we look away from our walls, we look away
from the cracks in our ceiling, and one day we
leave that place for another, a place with white
walls and good Thai food, a place with better WiFi
and a casual sense of anonymity, just another
animal evading extinction until the chain of command
loses link after link, crack after crack, and the tide
begins to lap at our ankles, waves rushing in as we
stand on the peak of the world holding our iPhone 15 up
to the sky begging for help as the satellites pass by,
glimmering amongst the garbage and stars until
even they melt in the brilliant embrace of the sun
Thursday, December 17, 2020
Feed your hate
with make believe.
The days will
grow heavy like
inside small rooms.
You will lose
your right to breathe.
The end is
near for all you
and sad buffoons.
such a travesty
last until the
lights get dim
and hate spills out.
is the thing in need.
Where do we
start? When do
we end it
without a doubt?
--Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozabal
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
A Mr. Rogers for the wealthy,
Warm and snuggly on cue,
Fatherly firm when needed.
Making them feel good about
Pillaging and looting the
Country they claim to love.
With trickle-down, supply-side
Ecocide and globalization
Shipping American jobs to
Any place where there is no
Union to protect the workers,
No regulations to protect the earth.
Opening veins and drinking deep
From the blood of the poor,
The exploited, and abandoned.
Squeezing the middle class
Out of their security, their homes.
Deftly turning us all against ourselves.
Now we go at each other’s throats
With picket signs and chanted slogans,
Guns like fascist fashion accessories.
We’re doing their work for them.
Cheerleader tRump leads his troops
With invective. His failed lawsuits,
Provide him the excuse for an attempt
At coup, the ultimate manifestation
Of the wet dreams of the wealthy.
We congratulate ourselves for electing
The other guy, and quietly pray
That something will change while
St. Reagan smiles from beyond the grave
And American Armageddon inches closer.
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Today is the day a sense of normalcy
rises from the collapsing lair of the
grifter in chief, from the seditious 126,
from the 17 blind mice, from party in
his pants Ruddy, from attacks on the
middle class, working class, poor. Of
the soon to be ½ million killed by a
virus Pennywise told everyone would
go away, was nothing, don’t wear a
mask, come see me, I am It.
Today is the day that begins our
democracy once again and with that
we must question why an American
President killed his own people, took
away health care, dismantled the federal
government, attacked the courts and the
very foundation of a free people.
And when the truth is revealed and his
supporters feign shock, deny the truth
the answer will be the same as it was
in November 2016…. polezny durak!
g emil reutter can be found at: https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/
Monday, December 14, 2020
Sunday, December 13, 2020
many cultures can succinctly emphasize
their worthy differences
in single words.
for instance, Pāli expresses Buddhism’s
very special precept of Mudita,
meaning Empathetic Joy
while Spanish summarizes a complicated
concept of Falling Out Of Love
in one breath, Desenamorarse.
on another hand, Inuits indigenous to Alaska,
northern Canada and parts of Greenland
now have gazillion sounds for White.
Bonus: Just Ask Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (1207-1273) 
Curfew earlyed up,
jackboots on firebrands’ necks,
what can word artists
do about menace
of unmarked police state thugs
Here are our new rules:
break your wineglass & fall toward
the glassblower’s breath.
Saturday, December 12, 2020
A political science professor, in a moment
of jocularity and respite from political theory,
said to his class, “if you really want
to mess up your kid, teach them to
call a ball, a refrigerator.” The president,
Since he started campaigning five years ago
has spent much his political capital renaming
things. Now nearly half the country parrots
his tweets: stolen election; no COVID.
His acolytes, like a pack of feral dogs, love
to chase refrigerators and will follow
them to the junkyard of ideas filled
with nothing but refrigerators.
Friday, December 11, 2020
It has taken me two decades
to cultivate my mind.
Tilling this baked clay
from educational fiasco.
I break hand tools
before resorting to a Kango.
White finger making,
head shaking, back breaking
efforts to let go.
I mulch in kindness.
Surface dress with love,
caress my forgiveness.
I have not hated for years.
I grub out those weeds,
ripping out the roots.
No fresh shoots survive.
What is this alien species
that slips past my defences.
An orange stained disgrace
spreading vile runners,
infecting every waking hour.
I accept this bloom of hate
may wither in November chills
but these seeds will linger.
-- Linnet Phoenix
Thursday, December 10, 2020
My fast friend for seventy years
began our Zoom schmooze
catching me up on
an apparent second epidemic,
as taking an Envo mask off,
one more tawdry tale
of early-stage dementia among
our grammar school chums
on Chicago’s Southside
comes out of her mouth along
with that quite obvious
question: whether our Alzheimer
crew’d be envious of comrades
who’ve already walked
the ultimate gangplank, are dead?
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Monday, December 7, 2020
At least in theory
It’s such a great
Mostly silent with
Gloves plus hats on
Circling the block
In snowy Wisconsin,
Some masked up
Plus others inside warm
Homes, still quarantined,
Can only mail ballots
Oy has an ostensibly
Equal voice deciding
To whom Badger State’s
Electoral votes go.
Sunday, December 6, 2020
“Come my friends,” wrote Alfred Lord Tennyson;
“Tis not too late to seek a newer World.”
If you trust a bully,
A pussy grabber,
A malignant narcissist,
A bone spur draft dodger,
A white nationalist,
And an authoritarian wannabe
Like his heroes:
Putin from Russia,
Kim Jong-un from North Korea,
Viktor Orban from Hungary,
Rodrigo Duterte from the Philippines,
Jair Bolsonaro from Brazil,
Recep Erdogan from Turkey,
and the Saudi Crown Prince Salman
Then you are crass and callow enough
To be conned again by
The ass clown’s latest scam
To soak his supporters
for MILLIONS OF DOLLARS,
To fund his election lawsuits.
But if you are a shout-me-down Trumpster,
And you don’t bother to read the fine print
Of his “Official Election Defense Fund”
You would learn
“There is no limit to how much
Donald Trump can pay himself
Or any member of his family
Under “Save America.”
So, Trump supporters
Open your wallets wide
Then bend over
Because you just
Got “Grifter Fucked.”
Saturday, December 5, 2020
Back from golf,
in White House
by citizen catcalls
as his infected
chief of staff’s
now phish for
Friday, December 4, 2020
Thursday, December 3, 2020
What They Did
was elect a Dump
a D period apostrophe ump
counting dollars and nonsense
McPounds and Pence
wipe reason from the counter
order disorder with
a side of squalor
and scatter sense
What they did was
undo the fabric
of e pluribus unum
attempt to divide us
to undo civil discourse
with undue faux news
make America grave again
especially in Puerto Rico
and the homes of dreamers
in the minds of our allies
and the realm of morality
What they did was kill Hilarity
while trying to make America
gray white and male again
get us talking about Them again
without Van Morrison
What they did was chirp
G L O R I A to America
while forgetting that
Mexico is part of America
forgetting “One nation
under God” means united nation
not only nation or number one nation
because if an omnipresent God did exist
he or she would have to be
big enough to cover every nation
What they did was keep
churches tax exempt
though their Bible plainly states
that the church is not a building
or organization but the people
and yet they still tax the people
but not always corporations
though they claim corporations
are people too
What they did was spit
in the name of God
on the words of their Jesus
who they conveniently forgot
was a man of color, a man
of Middle Eastern descent
and when they heard his words
“Love your neighbor as yourself”
they spit on them too
When they heard his words
“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s
and to God what is God’s”
they spit on them too
and took everything
When they heard his words
“Let the children come to me
for theirs is the Kingdom of God”
they spit on them too
and detained the children
and deported the children
and sometimes even lost the children
while insisting that “Jesus saves”
What they did was hear the words
of the man they claimed to follow
and find them hollow
exclaiming “Hell no
we want a white Jesus
made in our image
one that is not a socialist”
and thereby caged
their thorn torn Christ as well
We may need to save Jesus
from the Dumpster too.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
1. Phaeton’s Fate
-- thanks to Walter Brooks’ Freddy The Pig Goes To Florida, 1949
and Naomi Fry’s Basic Instincts, New Yorker, 16November2020
Lulled by such monotonous
patter on satin carriage’s
gilded umbrella roof
rich housewife & man dither
to care for other mothers’
kids of poverty while they
preserve their safe distance
through what C. Dickens
of boss-ladies or gents’
slick televisual clichés
as the Corona’s death rattle
prattle grows to more than
this horrible dull roar war.
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Moscow Mitch has no time for COVID relief,
needs what’s left of his flagging energy
to pack more right-wing cultists
into lifetime federal judgeship appointments.
Sycophants follow his lead,
spin conspiracy theories,
deny the fact their fascist-in-chief
has lost the presidential election.
Around us, coronavirus rages.
Trumpanzis refuse to wear masks,
socially isolate, take any safety precautions.
Infections and death rates skyrocket.
Democracy is on the skids.
Sick, unemployed Americans
cling to fantasies of deliverance.
Grifters grift. Civilization unravels.
Monday, November 30, 2020
They’ve buried the dreams underground, I think.
We don’t seem to have them anymore, the dreams.
So I think it must be that someone disposed of them,
did away with them—maybe put them underground.
When we dig for the world that others left behind,
we find jewelry or tools—we sometimes find bells.
The bells no longer ring or make any kind of noise.
Perhaps they’ve been buried underground too long.
Like our dreams or visions. The other lives we live.
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Saturday, November 28, 2020
"Would you come into my Parler?" said The Spider to The Fly.
"There's news for real Americans -- the MAGA girls and guys!
The way into my Parler is up a winding stair.
If you have a brain or conscience, just leave them out there.”
“Oh yes, yes,” said the little Fly, “a place to bash and blame
those party-pooping liberals who fact-check all my claims!”
--Eric Robert Nolan
Friday, November 27, 2020
My calico cat cannot wait to be served. She thrusts her head under the spoon. Today she got a strand of tuna on her head. Her ear twitched, but her mouth kept eating. Vanity and greed struggled in her. As they do in Donald Trump. But cuter in the cat.
--Cheryl L. Caesar
Thursday, November 26, 2020
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Maybe it has finally hit home as power clenches
To dust. The president does not use the term “stolen”
as a euphemism, where he was beaten by an upstart
Who captured the imagination of a people and surprised
the political world. No. This is a bully taking a bike or
Milk money during school hours and when caught he
demands the victims prove otherwise. Stolen, the way
Petty criminals roam neighborhoods late at night searching for
an easy opportunity like unlocked cars to ransack for coins
Or guns - things people are too lazy to take inside. Stolen
by breaking an oath to uphold his sworn duty, a long-
Standing agreement between the government and its people.
The broken promises of this country are stitched into our DNA
And the spilled blood absorbed into the soil. Do not be fooled
what the president wants to take has been taken before. The ghosts
Of the betrayed rise from their graves. Our common shared
ancestor is an enemy that has eaten all the low-hanging fruit,
Yet still hungers for more. Agreements drawn and re-drawn
like gerrymandered districts cut and pasted to form a wall.
The voices of a choked history tried to warn us. Their warnings
echo through the South, the Black Hills and Wallowa Valley - a roll
Call of the displaced from sea to shining sea. They've told us: to thieves
honor is for the weak, blood inconsequential, and power is their gold.
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
front of you
Monday, November 23, 2020
I know right where it is—in which room, on which bookcase
and on which shelf of that bookcase. And that isn’t always
how it goes. Sometimes I’ll scramble for hours in my place
looking for a book, a record, or some small scrap of paper.
It’s a first edition, ex-library, no dust jacket. And I believe
my mother got it for me at John King in Downtown Detroit.
The bookplate on the front pastedown indicates that it was
withdrawn from Marygrove College. The “Due Date” label
on to the rear flyleaf shows the last check out was in 1988.
I wonder now, in 2020, who decided to withdraw this book
from the library back in the late 80s or early 90s, decided it
to be a volume the library did not need on hand any longer.
Tucked in at “Lying in a Hammock…”—and of course at
that poem—is Naca’s short, handwritten note, scrawled in
her neat cursive on the back of a scrapped photocopy from
a book entitled Transcendental Wordplay. Her note reads:
“S.S.—The one day you’re not around! ♥ KNaca”
The note now must be over 15 years old—closing in on 20.
It’s just a little thing. A scrap of paper. A bookmark now.
But I love how it can remind me of those days years ago.
The days and nights. Those memories. Of times far gone
and away. Not to say that they were the best times ever.
Just different. Just not now. Vivid images I can conjure—
riding on the back of Naca’s motorcycle on Fifth Avenue,
or at a small party in some apartment dancing with Emily.
Or maybe at Brandon’s place with Bruce Lee looking on
as Brandon did his impression of all four guys from U2.
Time, time. Always time. The world spins its ugly spins
until it finds something beautiful again. And it carries on.
It carries on.
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Saturday, November 21, 2020
I can hardly believe
that Trump has gone.
It seems too good to
be true, like I'll wake
up to find it was all
I have no idea what
Biden will be like, but
even as a symbolic
gesture it feels good
to get D.T. out of the
I believe what Dylan
said " Don't follow leaders. "
But if that is the best
we could get to be
the leader of the most
powerful nation on
Earth, then we really
are looking sick.
We can't rejoice yet,
no one can even get
together for a party.
But it feels like a
line has been
crossed, I hope that
That we can think of
love, instead of hate.
Sharing rather than
shunning. Unity, not
You may say I'm a
dreamer, but I'm not
the only one.
Friday, November 20, 2020
in the face of the plague
the jazz man
in the dull yellow light
drunk before the evening falls
trying to light his smoke
from the wrong end
you can hear the stones playing
the décor is a cross
between halloween and christmas
a sure sign we’re in that lull
that marks the middle of november
the bar is packed
only on one side
men drinking in flannels
and dusty ballcaps
sit close in the muted holidays lights
the white light of the television
they are a portrait
of a time before this time
a remembrance of things past
sitting here on 5th avenue
e.j’s bar & grille is defiant
in the face of the plague
a death wish waiting to come
but ain’t no one worrying about this year
ain’t no one caring about the next
there’s no 250,000
dead bodies to count
just one beer down
another coming up
some empty stools down the other end
and one guy looking here outside
at the masked faces hustling home
waiting on the jazz man
to get his head straight
figure his whole cigarette thing out.
Thursday, November 19, 2020
as disappearedthe numbers explode
60, 70, 80 thousand plus
daily, imagine this
they aren't sick
imagine they disappear
now think of supply lines
of information, product
think of the disappeared
think how a supply line holds
as people disappear
this is not a half full
half empty scenario
trusting systems that refer
to people as flock, as herd
forgets the individual
supposedly the one thing
this twisted experiment
was founded on
the individual is mostly myth
humans turned to groups early
in the evolutionary cycle
to adapt, to, as a species, survive
this is survival with no guide
all malfunctions bare
what if the herd is another manipulation
another chance for power
to fill a vacuum, even if it can't hold
the damage is done, the damage
is far deeper than imagined
no one with power will save you
no one with power can save you
now think again of the sick
think of them again
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
Americans voting a lot!
The president’s lying, corruption and treason
has not been forgot!
The Donald, The Donald, ’twas his intent
to topple elected government.
He rallied a mob of gun-toting hayseeds
to bolster his own autocracy.
But good people braved the long voting lines
and remembered to mail their ballots on time.
Most of the voters were not confused
by InfoWars, O.A.N. or Fox News.
Joe Biden’s poll numbers are closing in!
Holler boys, holler girls, let the bells ring!
--Eric Robert Nolan
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Monday, November 16, 2020
George Reeves was my Clark Kent.
My man of steel. My Superman.
My truth, justice, and dare
I say ,my American way.
But black and white television
went the way of the dinosaurs
with a boy’s homespun
innocence hot on raptor tails.
Though my attention
as a young man drifted
to the newsprint on the back
pages detailing the agony
and ecstasy of New York
City sports, a journalist still
cradled the cache of reason
to comprehend my world .
While a bad apple here and there
dropped salacious ink along
with cheesy pictures to push
risqué trade, fearless news folk
from the Cronkites to the Breslins
gave the straight dope to keep
us in the know and protect us
from the evil men bred in money do.
So when those in power
lash out in cowardice against
those who champion facts,
in order to camouflage their vile
intention of stomping the throat
of those who dare address
the oppression, perhaps you will
see that my trust is not blind.
Much respect to the driven
men and women attaching
their bylines as witnesses
to the atrocities we owe
to ourselves to understand ,
for failure to do so can only
denigrate the democracy which
allows us enough light to see.
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Saturday, November 14, 2020
Friday, November 13, 2020
does it feel
to have daddy's hand
up your asshole so deep
he can actually move your lips
to speak his words?
we're not buying it, pal
we can see
what's in the background
what you're trying to block
with your big fat head
and your slick black preacher's hair
we can see the vultures pecking
at yesterday's one thousand corpses
we can smell the sour milk stench
of lies and death
as your wooden teeth chatter
"Move along! Nothing to see here!"
Thursday, November 12, 2020
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
GhostsSharp as a tack and working
mind and body to the bone
for pennies on the dollar so
his family can eat three squares
for at least another day but Jesus's
fingers ,usually so steady plying
wood despite carrying callouses,
scabs, and splinters, now not able
to keep the level straight as he keeps
hearing footsteps and whispers
and when the dawn unfurls the last
edge of the night Jesus is gone.
Maria selling fresh beefsteak
tomatoes at the market by day
and making the open mic by night
where the words etched from
her quill thread together like
the stems and petals of lilies
into a quilt of language plush
with passion and a dozen poetry
lovers in the house clap hands
but walking on clouds to her car
she's pelted by rotten fruits thrown
by rednecks until Maria is gone.
What looks like some sadistic
statistic algorithm reads like
prose to Karim whose fingers
dance upon the keyboard like
a virtuoso pianist doing
a Beethoven boogie woogie
with lines and lines of computer
coding to keep the bad guys at bay
till the bits and bytes are misread
with hysteria over a too smart
dark skinned man who knows
now only that Karim is gone.
Kiana's Kitchen was once just
a Susie bake oven churning out
chocolate chip hockey pucks
but shadowing her mother's
every move led to a love
of cooking and a culinary
career with a restaurant
in a quiet little town where
people wave and smile until
out of sight when a match
lights kerosene and the eatery
smolders until Kiana is gone .
If not for barriers braved
by the countless before us,
no one would exist among us.
A shame that the land
where it costs nothing
to dream but blood and sweat
as spilled by the spirits
buried in graveyards across
the promised land fosters
not community but fear
and hatred of those
so very much like us.
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
THE SMELL OF DEATH“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”
As a Vietnam veteran,
A regime change mercenary,
I can still smell the smell of death
Fifty-two years later of the three to five million
Civilians the US murdered in South East Asia.
Now, the smell of death lingers in the streets each time
Another black man is murdered by the police,
Its smell getting stronger and stronger
Each time the orange-tinted fascist authoritarian white nationalist
Stirs his storm troopers into bloodlust action,
The desire for extreme violence and carnage,
To defend the “freedom” to put profits over people
As the election for the 46th president nears.
It’s the smell that permeates the divide
In the disunited states of amerika.
It’s the smell of a failed state
Collapsing upon itself like a black hole,
Sucking the energy and livelihood
From its disenfranchised and marginalized citizenry.
It’s the smell of malice and hatred
And vulgar meanness in the hearts and minds
Of tiny nonthinkers, lacking compassion
And empathy for humanity
And their fellow man.
It’s the same kind of smell
The tangerine-tinted fascist made
When he said, “I could stand
In the middle of Fifth Avenue
And shoot somebody
And I wouldn’t lose any voters.”
Gun sales are up in amerika.
I hear the sounds of weapons,
Small arms: pistols and rifles,
Locking and loading.
In all probability,
There is an orange-colored fat chance
The new civil war is about to commence.
Monday, November 9, 2020
for max vankain 33 with pittsburgh
smoky skies choke
eight days of clean collars
a paint brush manifesto
spilled across church walls
in a world where the rich
had always been rich
the poor were forgotten
and god was undecided
in 41 with pittsburgh
ramping up for mobilization
smoky skies choke
your mother country occupied
another eleven days
to a world where the rich got richer
and the poor saved their blood
for a future that god
was undecided about
in 63 with pittsburgh
ready to sink into clean skies
and the promise of renaissance
this manifesto empty in prosperity
the rich got richer
the poor struggled endlessly
god as an entity was undecided
you, you had had enough
this world, cruel as you’d seen
you walked into the sea
Sunday, November 8, 2020
In the best country in the world
in the best hospital
with the best doctors
the best, the best of everything
and you, snuffle breathing
hard pain like a knee
pinning you down
by your thick neck
in your fever dream
you kick up the dirt
path through the trees
to the mountaintop
under the creamsicle
moonlight and you
alone, alone you
crest the final crest
of your lifelong self-
pity, the always
victim of the others
your sweat rancid
orange dye running
you glance down, down
from your gilty pinnacle
to another future
spread out below
like a plaid picnic blanket
in a dandelion meadow
in a forested valley
full of raucous birdsong
you can see now
a good life is
of all the lies
you've told, tell
to turn away
to the mirror of the sun
to the story you've told
all your sorry life
and you wake up
like a side of pink ham
roaring, rasping you
burst back on stage
start up the rampage
the liar and the fury
from your gilty balcony
above it all
above the rest
of the damaged world
Saturday, November 7, 2020
SENDING THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS TO THE WHITE HOUSE
They don’t want to know what I’m thinking. I’d still send
my thoughts telepathically but I don’t believe in telepathy.
I don’t believe in prayer either, but I’ve been praying anyway
as though hoping it could, this once, get me what I want.
People with more power and money than I seem to think
thoughts and prayers a sufficient response to anything.
They offer them to victims of natural disasters, diseases,
and violence. I apply them to poor political decisions.
They never define their thoughts nor reveal their prayers.
I suppose, like a birthday candle wish, to do so would jinx it.
I try to be discrete hoping that will at least keep me out of the
hands of the secret service, homeland security, and the DOJ.
With the West Wing now a hothouse of viral contagion, it makes
me wonder if my thoughts and prayers may have worked after all.
Friday, November 6, 2020
Keeping the Answers to Myself
Man, I rather stay
on the shelf than
pout to the dilated
Sing my song of
Not understood or pampered,
skim “their” answers featured
on bumper stickers and yard signs.
Keep to myself,
than walk away
with my integrity
than become belligerent…
while worshiping hidden
Thursday, November 5, 2020
like an angry meth dealer
pissed that he was
that he was
kicked out of his
rental house for turning
the garage into a meth lab
tRump will trash the
the carpet, throw
feces all over the walls
bust up all the toilets
shoot out each
sons air rifle
and throw a huge
drunken rager with
all of his unholy
well, he will
at least sit on the
Lincoln bed and cry
in his MacDonald’s
Big Mac and plot
Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Tuesday, November 3, 2020
Monday, November 2, 2020
Sunday, November 1, 2020
of playing chess with a
amuses my dark side
to no end
i dont get to
evil laugh often
until they give up
of every thought
and i evil laugh them
each for each
one by one
and to a one
or useful words
at the adult table
the kiddies either
where i practice
my evil laugh
and insults flow
some sage advice
dont dare bring
begs my graffiti abuse
on a solid brick wall
i will not
your failed effort
protection of the rock
you crawled out
but i will
let darwin know
that you are ready
Saturday, October 31, 2020
we have not been sufficiently humbled
more pain is required to reach bottom
we are living vicariously on borrowed feelings
becoming shadows of our former selves
we are not adequately corrupted and diseased
our guilty consciences won’t be appeased
the future will suffer and no one will weep
while we butcher what’s sacred like greedy beasts
we will not satisfy our unholy appetites
we will invent problems for every solution
we will dream the dream of Frankenstein
and create monsters out of our nightmares
we will be a credit to our national debt
Santa Claus isn’t coming, yet
we are too blonde to save
we will feel ashamed
we will abandon reason
we will incarcerate freedom
we will be completely demoralized
we will be subjugated by our fears
there will be four more years.
Friday, October 30, 2020
It’s been a year since
I woke up in nashville
on the floor of a revolution
that couldn’t be seen yet
on the floor with chipmunks
the sparrows, the smell of fall
in the dead leaves of an old hickory tree
here we are with all this loss
her hands are no longer to crows at dawn
her old lover dead again
she has guilt, she has resentment
you can build a life there for sure
but goddamn it isn’t a place
any of us could, or should, stay
somewhere out there
the romance of americana
can still be held with the eyes
in this fading season just arrived
with all good things wrapped in breath
adieu false heart
the other day the conversation
turned to anxiety, this is what we talk
about when we talk about now
let me open my hands
this time sparrows will fly out
will overwhelm a world of beech trees
our illnesses myriad in this light
goddamn I wonder if you are as tired as I am
I wonder if you find the word tomorrow
heavy as damp stars
I wonder does it seem strange
to you now when you say tomorrow out loud
like it’s already here, like it will never arrive
say it with me now, it might be ok
Thursday, October 29, 2020
Me and America and the World
I grew up in the suburbs of Southern California
sheltered from knowledge of the world
lied to about the blood on my hands
lied to about the blood on your hands
thinking what happens in the rest of the world doesn't affect me
thinking that self reliance is the only way to survive
not seeing the mounting mountains of waste
wasted minds, wasted lives, wasted wonder
until I reach adulthood and I'm told
through wind whistling by my ears
through ocean pounding in my heart
through rain clearing the befuddled fog
the short end of the stick is now yours
and so it's my turn to deal with
feeble old senators too wedded to their minds
brazen young senators who believe they know
what the people want
which appears to be to reelect them ad infinitum
just as the old senators have been
because these problems don't solve themselves overnight
and they convince us that as long as there are problems
we need them
and as long as there are things to fear
we need them
and they create madmen across the nation
and madmen across the map of the world
but the madhouses were rendered defunct decades ago
and so we wander the streets of the nation
and we wander the streets of the world
singing the songs of the birds
wondering where the landscape went
wondering when the landscape changed
ecstatic that the sun still rises to listen to our song
ecstatic that the trees still shelter the birds
ecstatic that the ocean still cools our aching minds
but for how long we wonder
for the sea is rising,
the trees are falling,
the sun is burning too bright
and our voices are drowned by the rising sea
our voices are drowned by cries for war
some of us ask for mercy
at least wait until the last war is over, we say
we can't afford to wait, we're told
we must strike while the enemy is unsuspecting, we're told
but many of us aren't sure who the enemy is
and why there always seems to be an enemy
despite the many wars we've fought
or perhaps because of the many wars we fought
and we ask to give peace a chance
because we haven't tried that yet
and war doesn't seem to have worked
but we're told that we're helping the enemy
by speaking about peace
that we're showing weakness
by speaking about peace
and that the enemy will take advantage
but we're still not sure who the enemy is
his name is different this time
and we wonder why he wasn't our enemy yesterday
we're told to let the senators handle it
we're told that it is their job to make these decisions
we're told not to worry about such things
we're told we voted for them for a reason
we're told that peace is for the birds
and the cries for war drown the songs of the birds
and the patriotic fervor rises higher than the sea
and the religious fervor rises higher than the sea
the loudest cries coming from the fearmongers
spreading their message to increase their numbers
deniers of science, deniers of the rising sea
deniers of history, deniers of the fire of knowledge
deniers of the songs of the birds
they tell us to believe in Jesus or go to hell
they tell us to ask forgiveness for our sins
for having eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge
they tell us we must spite our enemies
but we're still not sure who our enemies are
they tell us to follow the words of the bible
but only the words they tell us to follow
they tell us god can do no wrong
yet he created an imperfect man and regretted it
they tell us he meant to create an imperfect man
and regret it
they confuse us with circular talk
as if we're not easily enough confused
they tell us to do as they say or go to hell
but hell hath no fury like a scorched bird
the bird will rise again from the ashes
as it has so many times, through sacrifice and feast
through birth and death and rebirth
with the sound of the fury singing to deaf ears
waiting for someone to listen and respond
and "waiting for a rebirth of wonder"
and so it's my turn to deal with
the bewildered herds, the misinformed masses
dreams deferred and education deterred
the children are our future, we're told
but what kind of future we're not told
teach them well, we're told, let them lead the way
but we don't want to pay their teachers
we need the money for more important things
there are more pressing matters, we're told
we need to build more bombs, we're told
we need to keep our military strong, we're told
to protect ourselves from future enemies
but what if we allow all the world's children
to be educated, some of us say,
some of us madmen who don't understand
the way the world works
believing that intelligent, thinking beings
may work together to find solutions to problems
peaceful solutions without the need for bombs
but there we go with the peace talk again
imagining a peace with an unknown enemy
and we're quickly reminded of our place
and once we are in our place again, us madmen,
we're told that further budget cuts must be made
for the good of the many
music is unnecessary in schools
the children don't need it
it has no practical value
and the money is needed to build a wall
along our southern border
to keep workers out
so I'm left to wonder again
I wonder where the wise men and women have gone
when they bailed out of this place
I read about them in books
I see their writing on the cave walls
I see their messages in the ancient petroglyphs
but the old ways of seeing have become impotent
and so it's my turn to deal with
the strangulating state of the health of the world
the strangulating state of the health of America
the stomachs of the third world restricting
famine it's called when their resources have been plundered
and nothing left for the benefit of the people
the arteries of America restricting
cutting off oxygen to the brain
that secondary organ
we'll put sugar in all of our foods so people want more
we'll keep selling soda in ever bigger sizes
we'll keep selling burgers because economics beats health
and there's nothing more American than a hamburger
in and out of America
god bless the hamburger and god bless the holy cow (John 3:16)
and we wonder why we all have cancer
where has all this cancer come from
surely not the holy cows and the unholy chickens
and the preservatives that save them
but can't save Americans
but guns can save Americans
if every American owns one
to protect themselves from the crazies they've created
terrorizing teachers and children
whose voices sound like birds
and what happens now
when the enemy is among us
still the talk of enemies
always an enemy, always a fight
we need more guns say the logiticians
we have a right to bear arms to protect our freedom
from the deer and the moose and the bears
hunt them down and shoot those fuckers before they get us
we need to treat mental health say the lay psychiatrists
so people won't want to shoot each other
even though America shoots those it finds threatening
maybe our leaders are the crazy ones
maybe our institutions need to be institutionalized
maybe the prophet Erich Fromm was right
maybe capitalism is the root cause of the craziness
and so it's my turn to deal with
the cleptocracy of the wealthy
every year creating new ways to steal from the poor
these reverse Robin Hoods of the world
convincing us that Zorro was an outlaw
because laws are written in a government
of the rich by the rich for the rich
and the earth is a great battlefield
where the poor must sacrifice themselves for the rich
and the poor must fill the prisons owned by the rich
and the poor must fill the hospitals owned by the rich
and the poor must fill the factories owned by the rich
and the poor must listen to the radio stations
and the poor must watch the television stations
owned by the rich
and the free press is paid for by the rich
and the presidential candidates are paid for by the rich
and the congressional candidates are paid for by the rich
surreptitiously convincing the poor to vote against themselves
so it looks like democracy and feels like freedom
no taxation or representation
surreptitiously convincing the poor to give them their money
so it does not look like theft
the rich shall inherit the money and the luxury and lazy fare
and the meek shall inherit the earth which they must till
and we defeated the communists, thank god
and with them the chance of equality, thank god
and with them the hope of fairness in the world, thank god
because life is not fair
because in nature it's survival of the fittest
and man's a rugged individual or he is weak
and man's social and economic structures should mirror nature
except for the birds with their god damned songs
and the bonobos, those fucking bonobos
I am not convinced
I will keep singing the song of the birds
I will keep my head above the rising water
for as long as I can
and I will be able to look future generations in the heart
and say, I am sorry to leave you with this
and say, in the words of King David Kalakaua,
"tell my people I tried"
I did not let the song die, I did not let the fire burn out
the short end of the stick is now yours
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
she has the face of denial
tells me the signature that i wrote
thirteen years ago
doesn’t match the one
she has me do now on a stylus
i tell her it’s me
but she makes me do it again
we get the same result
a shaky blur of digital ink and slashes
look, lady, i can’t write on a stylus
which is true
i’ve slaughtered my signature
on everything from car rentals to UPS deliveries
i tell her that’s my signature
take it or leave it
she looks ready to leave it
early voting during the plague
in the cafeteria of a high school gym
sweaty high school walls
broken high school tiles
but no high school students in class
due to all of the death and disease
the polling lady goes to make me
write my name again, but i shake my head
give me my ballot, i tell her
throws up her hands
but does what i ask
although i can’t help thinking
the situation would be much different
if i had an accent or if i were black
i take my ballot
and stand in another line
full of the masked and frightened
wait my turn
to cast out one set of monsters
for a brand-new horror show
one that we can all hopefully live through
as a girl walks by me
wearing a this is what democracy looks like
and i think maybe
i don’t know, man
i don’t know.
Monday, October 26, 2020
Sunday, October 25, 2020
In the good ‘ol days
we would sit around camp
knocking back shots
like it was Colt 45 malt
trading barbs and sunshine,
our minds all lathered up
on Jesus and TV
pretending to be
The Wild Bunch.
We’d take turns pissing
on the constitution,
watching it burn
in the sacred flames of manhood.
Our women lifted scalps
and tied ‘em to their skirts.
We grew our own food,
made our own clothes,
kept our kids on a leash.
We had ironclad excuses
for side-kicking our dogs
but cried for the horses
when we shot ‘em.
There were protocols
for these sorts of things.
It was a great time to be shunned.
People still had fight in ‘em.
Democracy served our lips.
We hung law abidin’ citizens.
We didn’t need no stinking badges
and for the love of Christ
we never abandoned the stragglers.
Saturday, October 24, 2020
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
I CAN’T BREATHE
This is how
city by city
stop killing us
you crazy bitch
you lunatic baby
you spoiled psychopath
on the people’s
this is how
this is how
we can never
this is how we burn
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
or The needle men
the wee within
Much mock the moral mall
In greed they grip
the public tit
the wrong behinds
The useless twits
with inbred wits
to fuel their minds
Call down rehearsed
their red tape curse
of unknown tome
no known tones
they ALL tell lies
--Steven B. Smith
Monday, October 19, 2020
Moonlight at 2 a.m. There’s a train that is stopped
in an open field. Shards of light from a distant city
are cold as they flicker on the far horizon.
Like when a person goes into the depths of a dream
so far, they don’t ever remember they were there
once they’ve made it back to their bedroom.
Or when somebody falls into a deep sickness
and all of their days turn into flickering shards,
swarming, cold and faint off on the horizon.
The train sits there completely still. 2 a.m.
The moonlight strong. Only a few stars.
Sunday, October 18, 2020
Plague YearThe streets are
and the air is clean
while the people
and the birds
dance their dances
and we all
though the way
things are going
who’s to say
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Because the mice escaped the lab
with the ability to control similar sized minds,
they have roped themselves to the backs of ravens
and plan an aerial assault
on your cupboard filled with
and those delicious,
(inspired by the Pandemic Fifteen caused by snacking)
John Stickney is a poet/writer originally from Cleveland, OH, currently living in the coastal area of Wilmington, NC.)
Friday, October 16, 2020
Thursday, October 15, 2020
“When you make oddly specific false accusations about the other guy, it’s usually because you’re guilty of that specific thing, and you’re hoping to muddy the waters in case you get caught.”—Palmer Report
Three septuagenarians spar on network tv.
It’s a train wreck within a dumpster fire,
deranged grifter-in-chief stalks the stage,
vomits lies, dominates airwaves.
Within minutes, the moderator loses control,
allows a shrieking, accusatory whackjob
to hijack the event, transform it into a hateful rally
for white supremacists and MAGA deplorables.
The abusive bully rages as if suffering from rabies,
assaults our senses, instigates chaos, dissension,
encourages voter intimidation, offers no solutions
to COVID, climate change, racial injustice.
Unable to endure unhinged meltdown,
the barrage of blatant lies,
a call to armed vigilantes for violent action,
many feel their souls crushed, blood pressure surging.
Brutal ignorance takes a victory lap. Democracy loses.
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
And now I’m crying
in the quiet morning
with my dog beside me
on the couch
and the people locked away
and I can’t stop the tears
as the song
tells me stories
In the kitchen
I will eat my breakfast
and tell myself
I will find a way
to stop all this crying
before my children
wander into the room
and ask why daddy is sad
because I don’t want
to say the truth
or lie to them.
I just need to keep them safe
though I don’t know
how to do that
as the world spins foul
and the people
sick and dying
and the music plays.
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Monday, October 12, 2020
A definite space
Small intent -
Oh, ain’t we
So well read
(inspired by the backgrounds of experts featured on TV through tthe magic of Zoom)
John Stickney is a poet/writer originally from Cleveland, OH, currently living in the coastal area of Wilmington, NC.)
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Box of LettersI don’t know what I’m saving it for.
But I have it stashed on what I think
is a safe spot—next to my old Exley,
below the clipped quote from Proust,
& not far from sad, old Richard Yates.
But yes, those letters are there for me.
For someday. For I don’t know what.
Saturday, October 10, 2020
Friday, October 9, 2020
Thursday, October 8, 2020
Walk of Shame
Today you were caught.
The paparazzi snapped
their cameras with each step.
The ongoing affair you had
and declared a hoax
for nearly a year,
which you denied
publicly was met with
the hard truth. Lying
Comes easily to you
just as you touted snake oil
cures just as you hopped
from bed to bed, less
a desire to fill the deep
emptiness where love
Belongs but as a mirror
of you power. You
were accustomed to money
solving such problems by
paying off your former
wives and mistresses
In exchange they would
Remain silent. This Is why
the country is in a fever
to see you walk to Air Force 1
As you wear a mask and your last
night’s presidential uniform
Your head bowed
reluctantly waving to
the witnesses, to the word.
Where you finally acknowledge
The coronavirus is
A cruel, vengeful mistress.