America is a Cop Show

The Ballad of Knee-jerk Holler

America is a cop show
That started way back when
A slave took off and got away
And they fetched him back again

America is a sitcom
Where life is neatly framed
The laughs are prerecorded
And the foil neatly blamed

America is a racket
A scheme that is sublime
It lets the rich stay filthy rich
On someone else's dime

America is an advert
Tells you how to spend the buck
You worked so hard to pocket
At that job you got by luck

America is that famous city
Shining on a hill
That once belonged to someone else
The ones we had to kill

America is a voter
Empowered to enthrone
The one who keeps the system rigged
Who tosses you the bone

America is a grifter
Who lied his way to power
That many still support him
Is a situation dour

America is a system
Designed to self-correct
It barely pulled it off this time
It very nearly wrecked

America is a dreamer
Full of hope and faith and cheer
Who takes his knocks and gets back up
To face another year

Signal Soup

The blind embossed words
are all but hidden unless
the light is just right

Squinting in candlelight 
I angle the board edgewise
to the flame and see it

Worded like the stark declaration
of a law suit

The Hopelessness
of Things Ending
As Rooted in
The Heartlessness
of Things Beginning
The Suchness
of Things et al

It is case law and
the basis of endless appeals
to the adjudication of
this issue, or that
ladled out of the cauldron 
of a steaming signal soup

The volume itself
is filled with children's
crayon scribbles
illustrating what no lawyer
could ever decipher
and is always left open
to biased interpretation


At some point, humans learned to make shoes.

Now we marvel at the pleasure
of going barefoot.

Image by Mari Kanezaki from Pixabay


With solid red states turning blue
They're throwing out votes by the slew
Sow confusion and doubt
To suppress the turnout
What elsewhere the folks call a coup

A Pandemic of Authoritarianism

“The world does face today a pandemic of authoritarianism, which debilitates human life in distinct but interrelated ways. Given our global connections and the importance of our shared humanity, there are reasons for us to be seriously concerned not only about our own country, but also about others, taking an interest in problems all over the world. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in 1963, in a letter from a Birmingham jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” It would be hard to find a more urgent social need today than global resistance to growing authoritarianism across the world.”

—Amartya Sen, from a recent speech upon receiving the German Book Trade’s annual peace prize.

—via Anand Giridharadas, The Ink

I Am the Flip Side of You

I pray they find strength
the many who do
have to deal each day
with someone like you.

And may they be patient
the ones who agree
to put up each day
with someone like me.

Let's take a break
from the friction and fuss
and simply admit that
we both are like us.

In theory it works
or it seems like it should
in practice invariably
comes to no good.

Birth Control

I struck all the lines
that didn't quite work
and wound up here

An unwed title and
an explanation that
no one wants to hear

I don't even recall
how it began

An indulged impulse
like a fling with someone
you knew was wrong going in

Backspace key clatters like a backhoe
filling a morbid trench