Ump sez ‘you’re out’

Forever on the outside looking in

a hall of fame no-win shoo-in

guilty of the being boring sin

an off balance of yang and yin

chagrin camouflaged by a goofy grin

often anorexic at the gravitas weigh-in

taken one too many on the chin

perennially searching for a life plug-in

in charge of the human waste dustbin

whirled too often by faulty human spin

being quite the deluxe Zelig stand-in

A Lullaby For The Dark

Sour neighborhoods cluttered with soft hard kids

the gates of egress adorned with prickly spikes

no directional signage for life’s stations of the cross

very few chutes, mostly mirages of ladders, minus rungs

perchance to dream, sure, more likely just lay low


Slickly oiled up and anointed as tabula rasas

ensconced in the insidest of sick jokes

breathing in and out in a sundown world 24/7/365

the keys to any kingdom always beyond grasp

it’s a fabled concept spewed by word torturers


In even the most forlorn, yes, resides a dim glimmer of hope

can it ever intermittently eschew dormancy, or even artfully rule?

Try attempting facing the mirror and diving through the distortion

seeking the sprouting, shunning the stunted and gnarled

while praying all searing pain and hurt could be exit wounds

Family, or Not

* Inspired by the Bruce Springsteen song “Highway Patrolman”

We was raised on a family farm way out of town

croppin’ wasn’t easy but the lifeblood we found

two boys, me and Jed, our sister Rose died at eleven

buried past the barn when he was twelve and I ten

one day here, then gone, Mama said it was the fever

told me not to say a word and everyone believed her


Jed soon turned dark, just ugly treating others

we was the same but so unlike blood brothers

he earned a reputation, it spread and soiled me

kids would quietly edge away, watching fearfully

but Becky Cook took to likin’ me, be it luck or fate

with her I felt alive,  a liftin’ of the heaviest of weight



Life moves on but absence ain’t just not being seen

Darkness shadows families, we claw at the holes in between


My parents said don’t you dare bring her around

When I’d ask why, they’d say you just calm down

Jed told me to do it, with a look like he knew more

Then he’d smirk and continue on with his chores

one day Becky called wanting to see me by myself

Daddy and Mama in town, Jed to parts unknown


She showed up and I told her I liked her smile

I went to find my  favorite book, floatin’ all the while

when I returned, she was gone less a single shoe remaining

I called her name to no answer, silently spittin’ out a prayer

then I heard a scream outside and tore into the yard

Jed was draggin’ Becky away like a corpse to the boneyard



Life moves on but absence ain’t just not being seen

Darkness shadows families, we claw at the holes in between


Jed turned, let her go, then ran into the barn

Becky shaking, her dress dirty and blood adorned

Daddy’s truck appeared, he asked “why’s she here?”

“Jed hurt Becky” and Daddy’s eyes displayed fear

“He’s in with the livestock and I want at him”

Daddy had Mama take us inside, him pale and grim


A single shot rang out, Daddy took two hours to return

sayin’ “there’ll be no more problems, nothing of concern”

an hour later, he spoke again with “it’s time for the truth”

he said, “Emory, this is gonna taste like bitterroot

it was evil but family, what Jed did to our sweet Rose

but taking it outside us left me nothing but what I chose”



Life moves on but absence ain’t just not being seen

Darkness shadows families, we claw at the holes in between



The Past, the Present and The Future


Not final thoughts, call them edible words

written hard in mind and put away wet

Evil is, yes, the world’s purest desire

and humans will never break from its twining

it’s a backwater oozing enchanting siren songs

laden with devil hybrids and soul strip mining


Long before this nation’s so-called founding

chains were placed heavy across human hearts

call it the original-est of mankind’s sins

the scars on the Blacks in order to tell them apart


Death freighters sailed across the dark seas

Lower in the water, burdened with heavy hate

the ticket-less cargoes bound for King Cotton

timeless auction blocks still the South’s soulmate


Label them holy shrines or places of the damned

hellholes of Wallace, Maddox, Connor and that filth

the reality is there’s a new generation always bidding

the latest now nattily dressed in suits and ties of silk


Oh, come one, come all to the public lynch

it’s a swing and sway of the three-fifths faction

for when it’s a state’s right to maim and then kill

you cannot emancipate solely with a proclamation


Call it an alignment with the status quo gospel

brewed and marinated in feral and fetid DNA

always remember, ‘it’s Mr. James Crow to you boy’

for the genocidal will never stop seeking prey


Yes, human giants climbed many of the mountaintops

alerting and and warning about fires of five alarm

challenging the plaintive ‘we’ve always done it this way’

battling malignant foes laden with a love to harm


But this ill extends far beyond the southern seceders

to constituents professing kinship with the Golden Rule

but when human innocence is profanely slain

the thirst of all is quenched by the vilest of cesspools


Have black lives ever really mattered?

only in the futures market of the enslaved

angels yes, but among us there are no better devils

much history is home sweet home for the depraved

Sense of Self

Who was I?
I didn’t know at 7, 14, 21, 28, 35…
When I was young, I never knew I needed to know myself
That was never an assignment
I just lived each day
ingesting whatever came my way
what else was there?
carpe diem being something about a fish
was it my quiet neediness that overwhelmed my reflection?
Or an ordinary case of blindness traveling on the oblivious thruway?
I was everyone, yet no one. A self-induced facade
Empty inside
An adapter to surroundings
Well-liked but for what? Reflecting others?
I, wasn’t.

— inspired by a poetry writing class prompt about an earlier sense of self

Book review: “God’s Problem How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer?” by Bart D. Ehrman

The following is a look at Bart D. Ehrman’s book “God’s Problem How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer?”

University of North Carolina Professor of Religious Studies Bart D. Ehrman, among many other things, is a former fundamentalist and currently a fallen Christian. Agnostic would be a more accurate term.

Despite an early-on devotion to fundamentalist Christianity, he began experiencing doubts about his faith during graduate school. As he writes here:

“…If there is an all powerful and loving God in this world, why is their so much excruciating pain and unspeakable suffering?…”

“…for many…life is a cesspool of misery and suffering…”

“…the darkness is too deep, the suffering too intense, the divine absence too powerful…”

“…Ultimately, it was the reason I lost my faith…”

“…I realized I could no longer reconcile the claims of faith with the facts of life…”

Ehrman then explores the often contradictory and multiple reasons/justifications detailed throughout the Bible for such horrible afflictions in life. Among those:

  • suffering is a consequence of sin
  • suffering is a test, a down-the-line reward for passing
  • it eventually bolsters the recipient
  • it is the just the nature of things so accept it and God will bring hope and justice and eventually correct wrong
  • that the why of such is simply beyond knowing

Ehrman also points out conundrums in such misery: God’s flood killing countless animals as well as the actions of Adam and Eve not injuring others.

He states that if God can see into the future and is all powerful and loving, then his actions/inactions are not worthy of worship, but fear.

Simply put, he cannot understand or explain the prospering of the wicked while innocents suffer, believers among them.  Why  aren’t genocides prevented? Birth defects eliminated? Cancers stricken? Natural calamities deterred?

For Ehrmann, there is no fully satisfactory answer.

Not necessarily as a side note, he also writes about the element of Christian and Jewish apocalypticism and provides a pair of instances where Jesus offers that the end time would come very soon:

“Truly I tell you, some of those standing here will not taste death before they see the Kingdom of God having come to power” (Mark 9:1)

“Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place” (Mark 13:30)

Yet we’re still here. More grist for the proverbial mill besides the suffering conundrum.

Mark W. Bartusch offers in-depth insight in his 2011 God’s Problem How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer?” review. Do take a read.

War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

With all  due credit to Christopher Hedges and his beacon of honesty.

I was sent off to war
to settle a petty score
’cause the pols said
we want those bastards dead

They were once our friends
but that all now depends
on doing our private bidding
or else — no f-ing kidding

Shipped over to the sand
then marching overland
trying not to misstep
a basic danger we must accept

Some look forward to the kill
taking human life as a thrill
but it’s different you see
when you’re sitting in D.C.

Splattered with guts and blood
whether of an enemy or close bud
changes you deep inside
a pain some can’t abide

The desert she bleaches you
hallowed through and through
I just wanted to do some good
like most everyone would

After three lengthy tours
I’m not the same anymore
I did my best with pride
but it’s in a shell I now reside

Jen’s settled for what she’s got
the kids scared what war has wrought
tears and terror map out me
I’m tryin’ like hell so none can see

Now I don’t dare explore
what’s left of my brittle core
the mirror says it’s me there
shut down in my lonesome lair

So blare the trumpet solitary
and invoke the patriot fairy
my most ominous of fears
is that “Taps” I’ll never hear

I was being all that I was
charging forward just because
now my soul is never more
in case the Pentagon is keeping score

Yes, I’m still somewhat alive
maybe cursed to have survived
but I gave my life too
for it’s not the me I once knew


My parts and my pieces, never a fit
a jigsaw puzzle borne of bewilderment
from pillar to post, through kindness to jibes
focused on locating survivors of my lost tribe

Nimbly surviving on generous winks and nods
emitted from a charming and personable facade
always traversing terrain as a velvet infidel
silent on sharing, firm on don’t ask nor tell

Despair in my cup plus a diet of regret
but a fading vision still beating in my heart’s locket
seeking rainbow’s end, not continual storm
my destination always shifting place and form

But guided by virgins learned and sinners graceful
scouting for footprints of angels who will tell
on the outskirts of freedom, my simple epiphany
‘I am one, I am all, they are one, they are me’