Monday, January 30, 2017

Poetry in Tough Times

Totally terrified of the
tumult taking a toll on
the tolerance and tenacity
of these tethered towns.

They’re making too many tacit attempts
to try and test the temperament
of too many anti-totalitarians and
true testifiers to Liberty.

Tykes with too little intestinal
titanium trying to tumble the towers
of truth down to the troughs of tyranny,
through tepid tonal treasons.

The true test of this togetherness,
through the tidal waves of mis-trust,
takes inalienable truths that all
types are created equal.

Only together, tied in the theory of
this free Nation! Can we defeat the notion that
there are those who don’t fit the type
to make it “Great”.

A total and terrific untruth told by
those that entreat in trysts with
thoughtlessness and take comfort
in veiled trouble-making.

Take to the town squares to tell those
that try to disrupt all our fidelity and liberty
that they have no timber, tell them to
take their distrust and toss it into the sea.

This Nation, tested; testifies to the better
angels of our mercy and takes those that
are tossed out from the torments of their
times, to the potential their tears yearned.

 The tumult that terrifies,
is a tiny tintinnabulation against the
throats of the trustees in Liberty
and tolerance.

Touted by those that tossed tea
 and took taxes to mean the end
of any tyranny for themselves and
their progeny.   

Together, We are tougher than
the temper tantrums of a trumped up
ticking time bomb. Only together are
we all truly free. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

There's Something On Your Face

There’s something on your face,
right at the corner of your mouth,
no, the other corner, no, on the right,
your right.  It’s a glob of something.

No, you missed it.
It’s still there.
Do you want a napkin or something?
I mean, it’s obviously bothering you.

Are you sure you don’t want to just wipe
it a little?
I mean, it’s gross. Maybe it’s festering.
It might be something terrible.

No? You’re just going to leave it there.
It shows how you just tell it like it is?
It’s part of who you are now?
You’re embracing it?

I mean, I think it’s malignant.
I thought it was just an orange-ish smear
at first, but now I think it’s trying to take
control of your brain.

Yeah, I’m pointing right at it. It’s on the right.
The right side of your face. The side in shadow
and shade.  I think you should really do something
about it. I’m worried it’ll take control, define you.

No? Just leave it. You’re just going to see what
it does? I mean, you don’t even want like, to maybe
wash it a little? Maybe not just have it out there?
You want to put a red hat on it?

That’s just… that’s just weird.
I mean the smart thing to do would examine it
thoroughly and find the best possible solution.
No? Just see what it does?  Ugh. I’m done. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Thank You President Obama

                This is the final day of President Barack Obama’s tenure as this country’s 44th President. There are so many things I’ve wanted to say and it’s been very difficult to organize my thoughts on the subject.  I have been part of a great change in this country with the election of the first African American as our President and I sincerely take that to heart. I remember the 2008 night at my apartment, watching with two of my friends as Mr. Obama was declared the victor and we cheered and cried and were in awe of the amazing capacity for America to embrace change. It wasn’t the hope and change promised as by Mr. Obama, it was the change in America’s tone and willingness to elect an African American to the highest office at that moment in history. It was momentous.  

                I had a feeling that night that things in this country could only get better after so many years in the quagmire of the Bush administration. I really felt the country’s excitement and felt the quickened heartbeats of my fellow citizens at the thought of a young president, eager to take on the ills of America and help us to find solutions to them.  I felt there was now someone in the White House who respected intelligence, who was compassionate, who was a believer in the goodness of people and had the energized base to get things done.  I felt that we had the opportunity to create the nation that our founders had imagined and start working toward a future where everyone would have a shot at success.

                I was shocked when I was confronted with some more conservative friends and acquaintances. They hated Mr. Obama. They just hated him. They felt he was some kind of usurper to the Presidency. They said he wasn’t an American; that he wanted to take their 2nd amendment right away, that he wanted to start a race war, that he was a terrorist bent on the demolition of the United States of America.  They said he was an elitist. They said he was “too educated”. They said he would ruin this country in a way that had never been seen before. All before he’d even sat down at the desk in the Oval Office.

                I heard conspiracy theories that President Obama was the Anti-Christ and people went to great lengths to make the biblical connections to him and the Devil. I heard that he was preparing America for Sharia Law to take hold, so Doomsday preppers started filling their bunkers with guns and nonperishable food items. I saw that gun sales in the United States actually went up right after Mr. Obama was elected. And I couldn’t figure out why this was happening.  Why were people saying and doing these crazy things?

                I’m a rational man. I’m not prone to the peer pressures of too many. I’ve always taken the time to form my own opinion. I’ve seen my opinion evolve as new information was learned. I’ve kept myself open minded and clear headed as possible. I try not to “believe the hype” or “Drink the Kool-Ade”. I want to know more. I want to know sources. I want to know why. Why, why, why?

                I could never find a satisfactory answer. Conservatives just didn’t like him. Republicans just didn’t like him. They didn’t trust him but couldn’t point to a specific reason why. They didn’t think he was their President. He wanted to change things and that was unacceptable to some.  I was told over and over that Mr. Obama was worse than Hitler and when I pressed people to give me more information on why they thought that way I was just told I was “na├»ve” or “too young to know” or “I’d find out”, or even worse, that I “didn’t know what I was talking about.” The last one always stung, because I did. I am a student of History. I’m a student of Government. I have been following and studying the politics of this country since Nixon. (Even before Nixon actually.) I was familiar with the changing tides and attitudes of Americans toward their President, but I always also found a reason for their dislike. With President Obama, I could never get any kind of concrete answer.  

Nixon was a criminal, Ford was a bumbler, Carter was too soft, Reagan was too militant, Bush Sr. was wishy-washy, Clinton was a philanderer, Bush II was helpless, but Obama was worse than all of them for some reason. I was, and am, baffled by it. Mr. Obama certainly wasn’t perfect. His first term was certainly a learning experience and yet he still only wanted, in my opinion, what seemed like the best for the American people, regardless of race or economic background.  His second term was mired in the mud of the Republican Party’s upheaval within their own ranks. He was stifled by a Congress set on defying any attempts to help the people or in any way compromise with him.

                The vitriolic language that sprang up around President Obama was again, just a shock to me, almost daily. It seemed no matter what he said or did or tried, it was always some attempt to destroy America or take away your freedoms.    An African American President from Illinois, from Chicago, from Hawaii, was trying to take away the freedom of his fellow citizens. The lunacy of that always left me at such a loss for words.  If anything, he was the embodiment of what it meant to be an American and to achieve success through hard work and determination coupled with a desire to help people. How could someone like that want to destroy the very nation that nurtured him? It didn’t make any sense.

                So today, on his last day in office, I’m still stunned by the division and polarizing effect he had on the American people; whether his presidency exposed what was already under the surface or created a new sort of misdirected angst I don’t think I’ll ever know.  Whatever it uncovered I felt it play out against Hillary Clinton in her bid for the White House. I heard the same sort of hatred and vile taunts hurled at her as were thrown at President Obama and I still didn’t get it. It was vicious. It was so hateful and spiteful. It left me feeling like the hope of that night of 2008 was dead.

All I’ve ever wanted in a President is one with a conscious, a capacity for compassion, for an ability to articulate the hurt or joy or anger of the citizens in their words.  I vote for the person that most reflects my beliefs regarding equality, empathy, and has a global perspective, a big picture thinker. I vote for the motivator, the one with the thoughtful and articulate plan.  I felt the President Obama was the full representation of those beliefs and I’m proud to have had him as my President.

Now, there’s some heartache, some fear, reluctance, flatulence and downright spine-tingling terror at the prospect of the 45th President of the United States of America.  I’m sure, because I have the capacity for empathy; there were conservative Republicans that felt exactly the same way when President Obama came into office. I’m sure they were frightened no matter how unsubstantiated their fears were.  And yet, I am not with them, as I feel my concerns regarding the 45th President are substantiated since he does not, in any way, shape or form reflect my beliefs or hopes for the future.  

I have said it before; I think The United States of America is truly the land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. I think this country should always stand up for the little guy. We should always support the underdog in the fight as long as the fight is on the side of freedom, morality and the common good. (Sometimes the underdogs are jerks and we shouldn’t have anything to do with them.)I think it is our duty as citizens to always want the best from our leaders and to write, call, stand, sit or protest when we see them going astray. It is our Constitutional right and duty to express our desires for a more perfect union, to fight for a country of conscience, and to never let the hopes we felt in 2008 be swept away in the winds of today.

                   I thank you, Mr. President Barack Obama for your selfless service to this Nation and I look forward to seeing you continue to help us become the country I know we can be. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Love at the Rock Show

                Seth kicked at the railroad gravel sending small rocks flying and skipping over the steel rails and down over the side of the berm.  The gravel echoed across the railroad tracks in the quiet of one a.m. He winced at his split lip and he remembered getting elbowed in the face.  He exhaled, trying to clear his head.  He tightened the knot from his flannel shirt sleeves around his waist and focused on walking. It was a long walk home even with the railroad track shortcut.

                The concert was supposed to be the time Seth was going to make her love him. She’d be up there, on the stage singing in her normal frantic but amazingly sexual style, when she’d spot him in the crowd and fall madly in love with him.  It was ordained. It was supposed to happen. Seth just knew it was going to happen that way. He’d dreamed about it so many times. He’d imagined it so perfectly. He even knew what they were going to say to each other.

                Carrie Lee would stop the show right in the middle of her signature song, Love is a Knife, and ask for the concert venue to put a spotlight on Seth. She’d recognize him from his letters to her and she’d know that it was his 18th birthday. She’d insist a spotlight be put on Seth. The light would come on, blinding Seth for a moment. Carrie Lee would say his name and he’d be lifted up on the shoulders of all the other concert goers and body surf his way to the front of the stage. The burly bouncers would help him up onto the stage where he would be face to face with Carrie Lee.

                “I knew you’d be here,” Carrie Lee would say.
                “I knew you’d know that,” Seth would say.
                “I got your letters,” Carrie Lee would say, “They’ve meant so much to me.”
                “I know. I’ll always be there for you,” Seth would say.
                “Happy Birthday Seth,” She would say.

                She’d take his hand and pull him in close. She’d look into his eyes and then close them slowly as Seth moved forward to kiss her. Their lip rings would touch forever solidifying their universal connection.  The band would start back up and Carrie Lee would hold Seth’s hand for the rest of the show. She’d kiss him at the musical breaks and in between songs. She might even cut the show short so she could get him back to her hotel room for all the awesome sex they were likely to have for the rest of their lives.  It was so perfect.

                Seth looked behind him along the train tracks to make sure a train wasn’t coming. Not that it would matter now, he thought. Nothing had worked out like he’d expected. His Dad dropped him off two blocks from the concert venue, which was cool, but his dad just didn’t get it. Carrie Lee’s music was raw and intense and there was no way his Dad could understand it. He never had music like that or felt that way about someone.  But it was still cool that he was letting him go to the concert by himself and didn’t drop him off right in front of the doors. 

                Seth gave the guy at the door his ticket, went through the metal detector and into the intimate concert space. It was packed with all sorts of punks and rockers and weirdoes that Carrie Lee’s music inspired. It was Seth’s first concert so he really wasn’t sure where to go. He followed a small group of guys that were sort of dressed the same as he was. A flannel shirt tied around their waists, messy hair, old board shorts and skater tennis shoes. He figured he’d just hang back with them until the show started and then he’d let destiny unfold.

                Things started getting awkward really fast. He found himself caught up in the rush of people moving toward the front of the stage. There were just so many more people at the concert than Seth expected. He thought this was an intimate show not a hootenanny for a bunch of yahoos. He was pushed and shoved and practically mauled in the crush of Carrie Lee Fans as they forced their way closer to the stage and the metal barrier surrounding it.  He tried to push back since he wasn’t standing in the spot he imagined in the crowd.  He was too close to the right side of the stage when he imagined he’d be closer to the center. He tried to push his way in that direction but the lights went down and the intro music started.

                The crowd started cheering and it was deafening. Seth jumped when the speakers blasted out the bass line to Carrie Lee’s song, Finger This. He’d never felt a bass line pass through his body before. He felt his heart rattle in his ribcage. He looked up toward the stage and saw Carrie Lee skip out with microphone in hand. She was dressed like a Japanese Anime Maid; it was not how Seth had imagined her. She thanked everyone for coming to her show and the band started in earnest as Carrie Lee started hopping and gyrating across the small stage. Seth felt the crowd swell and he felt crushed. He looked up toward Carrie Lee with pleading notice me eyes. He begged God for her to notice him; to see him and know that the man of her dreams was in the crowd and ask them to give him space.

                She kept singing and Seth could hardly tell what the song was. It sounded like something he’d never heard before but people in the crow were singing along. It was something from her first album, an album Seth didn’t even know about. He tried to make a space for himself in the singing crowd but he couldn’t get any room. He felt like he was going to lose it. He was sweating and felt lost in the noise and confusion. He turned away from the stage, still hoping that maybe Carrie Lee would see that he wasn’t facing the stage, the odd one in the pack, but she didn’t. Seth started pushing his way toward the back when an elbow came from out of nowhere and caught Seth in the jaw. He’d wandered into a small mosh pit and got hit right in the face.  He fell backwards and into the crowd who pushed him back into the little mosh pit where he bashed his head into another person’s head. He fell to his butt into a puddle of beer. No one helped him up. They danced around him as he tried to crawl to the sides to get away from them.

                Seth spent the rest of the show, nursing his bleeding lip and rubbing the top of his head where he’d connected so hard with some other dude. Carrie Lee never looked his way. She never asked if he was there. No matter how hard Seth pleaded to God to let her see him there in the back she just kept right on singing, dancing and flirting her way out of his heart. Seth was embarrassed and hurt but wouldn’t let it show. He sort of sang along and tried to look cool along the back wall along with the old people.   He stayed for the entire show. He stayed for the encore. He stayed so long that the bouncers had to sweep him out along with the drunks and high kids.  He never saw Carrie Lee other than on the stage. She didn’t greet her fans. She got on a bus and was gone.

                Seth called his dad. Said he’d had a great time, but he was going to take an Uber home. His Dad said it was no trouble to come and pick him up.  Seth didn’t want his dad to see him so upset or that he had a busted lip. So he said he’d just Uber it.  His dad said that was cool and he’d wait up for him.  Seth tried to keep it together and said thanks. He started walking toward his neighborhood. He walked through neighborhoods he’d only been driven through, saw the late night spots older people talked about but he was too young to know about.  He just kept walking till he got to the train tracks and his direction home.  He could find some peace on the train tracks and clear his mind. It was a place where he could try and figure out the hard lesson he’d learned. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Snickering to Sleep

It was with a sharp snicker
that I remembered some
of my clumsier romantic

Those times I tried to be
the dashing movie star but
only succeeded in being the
bumbling best friend.

I cringed at my memories
of awkward kisses, uncomfortable
hand holding, feet sweeping and
poorly timed passions.

I am not suave. I lack the guile
of the classic beau of cinema.
I get nervous and sweat rather than
confidently swoop in for the kiss.

I chuckle at my embarrassments,
and wonder how it is I got as far as
I have in situations where my awkwardness
wasn’t a detriment, but a charming plus.

Maybe twice. Three times max. When
my fumbling was cute, adorable, and even
a little sexy. God bless the women that thought
so. I appreciate their charity.

I’m a rumpled and wrinkled shirt in a
see of finely pressed cottons, trying
to iron with my hands and smile sweetly,
as I am judged by lips I’ll never kiss.

I shook my head as these thoughts
played with my sleepless mind, in a lonely
Sunday bed. I’m just fine. She’ll like my
awkwardness, because that’s me.

And maybe she’ll be an awkward kisser too,
and maybe we’ll have awkward kids who’ll
go on to have awkward loves of
their own.

She’ll like me. And I’ll like her.
I took some comfort in the thought,
my wry smile fading from my face,
as I finally settled into sleep.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Popcorn Dave and the Butter Girls

Popcorn Dave and the Butter Girls
put on their best show ever.

There were kick lines and fireworks,
flaming hoops jumped through.

Aerobatics and aerobics,
throwing knives and juggling.

Popcorn Dave was in his best
red and white striped suit.

The Butter Girls were flashy in
their skimpy gold lame.

The children oooh-ed,
their parents aahhed.

The tent was alive with action
and death defying thrills.

There were songs, jokes, stories,
bittersweet vignettes and applause.

Popcorn Dave and the Butter Girls
Amazing Extravaganza of Daring-Do!

It was the talk of the town, they were in
the paper, they were in the Church bulletin.

 The last act, Popcorn Dave’s leap from
a flaming tower into a small pool, ringed with fire.

He tipped his red and white stove pipe hat to
the Calliope player and winked at the Butter Girls.

The drums fell silent, the crowd held their breath,
Popcorn Dave, in his signature act, jumped off the tower.

Through the air he spun, tumbled and rolled,
he crouched and twisted in fabulous ways.

The air was thick with terrific anticipation,
a Butter Girl looked away, the lovely Delilah.

The pool was in focus, Popcorn Dave straightened
out, perfect form, perfect shape, a bullet of skill.

Barely a splash as Popcorn Dave hit the pool,
he rose from the water with a sparkler clamped in his teeth.

The tent went wild, the ground shook with cheers,
the Butter Girls danced, Popcorn Dave took his bows.

The finale overture played as the players, jugglers,
The Flying Zimpani’s and Bogo the Bumbler bowed.

The audience, so in love for the moment, began to
trickle out and silence crept in to the once loud tent.

Popcorn Dave now in his red and white striped robe,
stood near Delilah, whom he always loved.

“This is my last show my dear,” said Popcorn Dave.
“I know my sweet,” said Delilah, “I know.”

She kissed his graying head and squeezed his old hand,
he smiled as a tear ran down his wrinkled cheek.

The bright lights in the tent went out.