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

 

Chorus

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

 

Chorus

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”

 

Chorus

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

Darkness shadows families, we claw at the holes in between

 

 

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

America the Dysfunctional


It’s said this is a most Christian nation
but acting Roman is our supplication
idol worshiping money’s lurid gloss
while justice is bang nailed to the cross
why isn’t wrong wrong as well as right right?
it’s the crux of humanity’s never-ending fight

Chorus:

O beautiful for brownish skies
for modified waves of grain
for clear cut mountain majesty
above the parched and barren plain
America, America,
god what they have done to thee
and crown thy populace via dominionhood
from sea to rising sea

Manifest destiny always holding sway
exceptionalism the sole American way
timeless fables telling that familiar story
all preaching the emancipation glory
free to buy the milk and cereal we want
while freedom’s blueprint sheds its font

Chorus

Those welcoming tragedy for opportunity
dollar sign profits but all they can see
accrual by vanquishing the dispossessed
experimenting on humans, more or less
if a god shed some sort of grace on thee
was it for the despoilers to be all they can be?

Chorus

The most distinguished jurists in all our land
simply bought-and-paid-for with open hands
granting corporations full human rights
extinguishing Lady Liberty’s historic lights
advancing predation for the monied class
leaving hell to pay for all the lower castes

When Too Much Is Not Enough

At the top o’ the heap by rigging the rules
keeping the money flowing to their favorite political tools
discarding the bereft like yesterday’s trash
after fleecing ’em out of their homes and cash

It’s full bore patriotism to the almighty dollar
but never ever is heard any painful blue blood holler
from the wallets of our very own kith and kin
the elite steal from early and often

CHORUS:

They win or lose on whichever path they choose
but triumph or fail, they always will prevail
’cause they’re calling the dance at the predator’s ball

The rich and powerful sup at the trough
they’re brilliant, they deserve it — cough, cough
junk bonds and derivatives crosses of the alter
financiers as deities, surely none will falter

It’s a no product, nothing built, sleight of hand
just vast paper castles built on quicksand
with the tap of a key, so easy to perform
no muss, no fuss, just economic porn

CHORUS

Profit on the guaranteed demise of others
sacrifice for the low level sisters and brothers
but just when is enough and at what cost?
and to what degree of our paradise lost?

What about he who finishes first, shall be last?
it’s fundamental scripture — the die is cast
but in a country worshiping grandiose greed
Caesar and mammon are the twin masters’ creeds

CLOSING

Yes, they package and trades things invisible
insulated from the fickle ol’ bear and bull
insured from calamity by the full faith and credit
of the ordinary folk who will never ever get it
they’re simply too big to fail or take down
they’re America’s terrorists, they own your town
salute and subjugate to the new holy crown

The Teens

Back in high school as an invisible outcast
A nameless zero minus colors or masts
living the prophecy that the last shall be last

A negligible adolescent full of yearning need
neither good nor bad, just a nothing seed
diminishing quietly of an internal bleed

Getting by minus a call and response spotlight
an insignificant life lacking both fight or flight
sporting a demeanor of empty vessel blight

A favorite one to nobody under the sun
life a daily fantasy of visualizing dry runs
so much easier dreamed than ever done

Heaven and hell were but just the same
with a daily basis of stakeless claims
desperate to get some skin in the game

Infatuated with girls but illiterate to cues
aching for the smallest endorsement of value
adrift in a vacuum with no from or to

The yearbook, my name plus an empty page
four years in a play performed backstage
a rosetta-less stone of the years teenage

Now but just a question for trivial pursuit
a who was that guy lacking any repute?
Still caring about those ladders and chutes