Thursday, October 29, 2020


Curriculum Vitae:
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
and me
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
good luck

--Steven Hendrix

No comments: