Sprung from a gilded crib

The lies she told were pretty things

Built upon Gossamer wings 

A mother shielding you with fibs

That fell into your gilded cribs

For all that may or may not be

Those lies were signs so tenderly

Placed upon your waking conscience

Protecting both you and she

You sadly never learned the truth

Heard nothing that could change in youth

Neither did it come in time

Nothing could befoul the rime

That left you lonely in make believe

Given to faith in fairies

Never did you challenge these

Not you or all the maids in waiting 

Hired, acquired assisting the dream 

That lied to you and can’t come clean

For truth is not a binary thing

And yours is yours a solitary sing

What love was lost behind the lie

I’m certain were insistent whines

The love that gave you meaning when

The lie was given you instead

Is all the more regretted now

By all the people passing by

Through windows you have seen a world

Black painted, tainted with the swirl

Of never knowing or wanting or being

A thing that truly ever had meaning

But charming we are told you are

By you and 2 in 5 who parse

Your virtues and arrive askance

But certainty replaces chance

Never will you or them rely on

Virtue without spinning transaction

Neither will you cede your fitness

For you were once a golden child

Before time left and took you with it

There’s not a lot to go on here

I’m frankly feeding gaps with tears

A thing to which you seem to aspire

The feckless and phony false bravado

Unable or willing to let it slide by

For yours is important and all should know it

The west wing won’t ever forget  you owned it

transactional evil may render residual

But nothing you offer will ever fill 

The hole that fills with garden silt

That lies amid the heart you are sentenced

Not wielding to fitful efforts to patch it

The heart indeed is a lonely hunter

Somewhere a quiet man balances the bluster

That seeps from you now without soul or fire

Just the daily reminders that nothing gets higher

One day it will end and you will be dying

Not dead but not living

Surviving to search for 

The cameras and lights that left with our savior

Whose visage I can’t summon just yet

Who will emerge into spaces bereft

Of love, empathy, decency, respect

I don’t much know it matters much

I’ll do my part, work and give and such

To reap the plants our parents sowed

When yours were hiding from your throes

We all will have what you want most

A legacy built by all you boast

But never ever did you fathom 

The love you’ll leave in wreckage’s wake

We’ll pick it up and you’ll insist

That this was what you meant in jest 

But we will know that all you cling to

What’s left of the morsels you once would cling to

Is not exactly balanced genius

Yours is more a broken looper

Coming round a collective stupor

Its now just like it’s always been

Never what you thought you were when

You never left your gilded confines

Stayed to long inside the fault lines

Now truth is mixed with pleasant feelings 

Reality a simple thing to deal with

For just as long as it may take you

To fool yourself that this you meant to

Not ever bothered by your madness

Who knows how much you even fathom

For yours is not a dismissible life

Like Nero your name will linger

On tongues that wag long after you squander 

A life you coolly leveraged for waste

Convinced you hit a Birthday triple 

Still standing precisely on third base

My Silly West Wing Dreams

‘I’ll have a shark sandwich. You like shark? Never had it! You’re in for a treat.’ I thought.

I wasn’t so much paraphrasing Jeff Bridges in the contender as I was riffing on my memory of him. I mean, shark sandwich. Come. On.

Not that I have a taste for killer beasts of the sea. Not much for seafood, actually. But what a cold and cool way to announce your power as President. Invite your opponent to come to the east wing and order someone near you to get you some shark. Damn.

No one ever imagines life in the governors mansion. Not from here. Not sitting in council chambers suggesting yourself as next town council rep. Why would you place such limitations on yourself. Nope, I could already imagine it. Life in the White House. Hell yeah.

I had written a statement to read that had gotten a very positive response from the organizer of our event. She was enthusiastic beyond words. Her email calmed me down before stoking my Walter Mitty like daydreams of shark sandwiches and front yard Easter egg hunts.

You have to understand. A writers work has an emotional ebb and flow. Allow me to illustrate using art. ‘Talledaga Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby’.

At the beginning of the movie Ricky is running hot. Winning everything, on a roll, full of confidence and unable to imagine it ever stopping. In an interview he makes a statement that is EXACTLY what it feels like when you are writing and it’s flowing. He said…

‘Look. Here’s the deal, I’m the best there is, plain and simple, I mean

I wake up in the morning and I piss excellence.’

Okay, it’s crass. But you know what, I don’t care. That is how it feels when it’s working.

There’s another scene in the same movie. This is later on. Our main character, the beloved Ricky Bobby is in the middle of his comeuppance. He has failed and failed and failed and he finds himself imagining a himself being engulfed by a fire ball and he has stripped naked and is running wildly on the abandoned track in tighty whitey’s and a helmet screaming in a panic…

‘Help! Fire! Oh god help me. Help me Oprah Winfrey, help me Tom Cruise!’

This quote (paraphrased from memory) typifies exactly what it feels like as you push ‘publish’ on the writing you were so recently so confident of while producing it. It’s a pretty extreme variation between unflinching confidence and bed wetting fear, to be sure. Especially considering these emotional states exist without any transitional states between them. Typically, at least.

So when the organizer replied to my email, sent with all the confidence of a church farther hoping to god it be both silent and odorless, with the opening of WOW! Well, I was right back to my writerly confidence. She wrote a bunch more, but to be fair ‘you had me at wow’ is a statement I feel fairly confident making for all writers.

I arrived to the council chambers with humility in my heart, not that you’d see it on a topographical map as it was a tiny sparrow sitting behind a mountain of confidence. Warmly greeted upon introducing myself I was so very excited to be around similarly minded resisters. A moment of sincerity here, it was truly heartening to see all these folks, neighbors and friends I’d yet to meet who felt the same as me. We have a town council that by what I can gather has been 100% republican for decades, without so much as opponents to run against them.

So newly friendly with my neighbors who’d come out of the shadows I took my seat and the evening began. We pledged allegiance. Off we go. I had no idea there would be so many folks here. This was a real meeting, not just a town gathering. County officials from the party there, candidates for state office. It was a real thing happening. The pros got up. The first stood behind the table at the front of the room. Party guy told her to come around front, but I knew what she was doing. There was no podium. It had caused me a moments panic, but I had my WOW in my back pocket, already committed to paper, why should I worry.

I’ll tell you why. Because when she came around front of the table it snuck into my mind, around the mountain of confidence. The tiny sparrow was on my side of the mountain now. I’ve only once read my own work to a crowd from a stage. I barely got through without sobbing. To be fair that one was about my son, it was a tender piece about the fears of a father. This wasn’t that. It was a political speech. Still, I learned through the many times I’ve spoken to groups at work that holding my paper was a bad idea. The hands would start to shake.This would trigger the completely illogical loss of breath control. Then, yep, the water works. But this was a friendly crowd. Why should I worry.

Her reason for running was profound, heartbreaking, personal and touching. I was definitely in the right place, with the right people. Okay, I can do this.

Next candidate got up and announced that she was working on her speech. She would be reading from cards. CARDS! Why the hell didn’t I think of this. It would give me a natural way of looking up and realizing I’m not naked, these people are with me. And when the hell did this sparrow get so goddam big! WHERE THE HELL IS MY MOUNTAIN OF CONFIDENCE! And I was totally wrong about the sparrow being humility. The sparrow was humiliation!

At least I was still confident in the support of the audience. It would appear my rabble rousing, ‘conscience of the liberal left’ speech would meet the tenor of the room. We were all here to organize resistance. What the hell am I so afraid of. Get out of here, negative self talk. I don’t need you!

‘Okay, I know it’s been a long night, but we have some people that have offered to run for Town Council and they will all address you this evening.’

HOLY CRAP. HOLY CRAP. DEAR GOD, I KNOW I’M ATHEIST BUT PLEASE BECOME REAL AND TRANSPORT ME YODA LIKE TO SOMEWHERE, ANYWHERE ELSE… Maybe I won’t be fir…

‘First I’d like to bring up Joe Medler.’

Shit. That’s not a sparrow. Is that an eagle? Why does he seem so angry and threatening. Shit. That’s a vulture, dude. Oh no, when I start calling myself dude in my brain something is way off. Crap. Don’t trip. Wait, why would I think that. I’m a grown man in fine health, I won’t trip. But god it would be the worst time to trip. I’M NOT GOING TO TRIP.

Breathe. This is easy.

‘Hello everyone.’ I said.

This isn’t so bad.

‘I’m not a politician. I filled out a survey, literally last night, and said yes, I’d be willing to be a candidate for town council. Then Tracey, wrote to say I should prepare a statement on why I was running. So I did. Thank you for being here and here goes.’

That was fine. What was I so worried about. All I gotta do now is read.

I pick up my paper, chin nailed to my chest, head down and we’re off.. that’s a strange tremble in my hand. Maybe two hands will be better. Wait. That’s supposed to stabilize not double the shaking. Where was I. Oh my god, why did I write suvch a personal piece. I really am kind of naked up here. Where are you mountain, don’t disappear.

NONONONONONONONO! It was just a simple crack of the voice nothing to worr.. shit, again. Is that water in my eyes. Fuck. I’m doing it again. Hands up, Im done.

‘And I think that’s a good place to stop.’ I said, and started to make my way back to my seat to see if I can fit under it. Forget the shark sandwiches, forget the glory of being a vessel for equality and democracy, forget the more humble aspirations of serving the town and being a politician.

‘Okay, Joe, do you mind if I read the rest. It’s really powerful and think it’s worth everyone hearing.’ said, Tracey.

‘My goodness, I can’t thank you enough. My god, yes, please, save me and this moment from the disaster it feels like!’ I thought. It came out more like a barely audible, ‘Yes. Thanks.’

She proceded to complete my story. I have to say whether they were just taking pity or genuinely appreciative of the writing, I don’t really care. Everyone was so generous with their kindness. Handshakes and thank yous and people sought me out to tell me they enjoyed it. I was in the right place after all.

But perhaps it is time to go back to the drawing board in terms of figuring out how exactly I can best serve the goals of our group. After all, there is very little need for a crying call to arms. Might play into the worst stereotypes of liberals, actually. I’ll stay a bleeding heart, but perhaps i should retire the crying eyes;)

Fallen

dismiss me I’m liberal
fault me for caring
about others and dreams
and nations and sparing
the lives of innocents
who fall below visions
of hawks and of monsters
and barkers of treason
you sling and slash
you shout of the demon
of fault that is falling
on those that don’t need it
you fire and fly
a flag of fallen heroes
but fail in your faith
never wanting for reasons to hate
alt white is leading
the nose of minor masses
to alt right leaders
contorting the language
to paint virtue of evil
and claim it is raining
the rain that is washing
their dominance away
not right not alt not white not all
but wanton and craven you hasten the fall
of fairness for looting
the souls of the groundlings
scraping and striving
learning and wheezing
your winning and failing
and pushing weighted ideas
that once fell to the flag
the long ago beat them
now spreads them and hides them
behind bars of blood
letting you rule but not fool
not even each other
spraying hate without heeding
those words you ain’t reading
that told of a notion
once dropped will no longer
unite us but bite us
by virtue of group think
shouts and screams and hollers for fealty
to nation not notion
defeating the meaning
of something we once knew
worth striving to perfect
now can’t even muster
the unity to protect

BOOTSTRAP ELEGY

Pay no mind 

to the gold flecked philosophies

to the high hat hypocrisies 

of their bootstrap elegy 

pronouncing vice as virtue 

spreading apathy to foster 

fields of mice who do their bidding. 

Nothing we see seems to be what it seems

when Enron robbed Ida and chortled and crumbled 

the mountain we found wasn’t even a fraction 

of the fraud that was lurking

virtuous kneeling in pews and on TV 

Elmo grooming the children to pray 

to the heavens for love and salvation

finding church in the arms and uncomplicated desires 

of evil men hiding in cloth and mire

protected by god who shuffled them off 

to others and others every time saying sorry

and moving on to new fields and new fosters 

where no means maybe and riches are granted 

the veil of proof that god favors the takers 

and pays poverty wages to victims of crimes 

that can only be hidden neath the feats and the fears 

of all gods children 

convinced the next scratcher brings heaven 

while mending and tending the needs of their handlers 

the virtuous lenders and miners of fortune 

held up like beacons held out like sirens 

but hidden and choked behind screens that strain them 

and keep them aloft for all to see and touch and everything but be. 

Each toiler now looking for that great scam

that will let them touch god who they claim has a plan

but what do they mean when kindness and love are held out as ideal 

and the scripture of fortune is fed by greed

and love is devalued to want and to weed