It Was of Many Parts
The pandemic came
and it was not of a single virus.
It came from creatures of the night
and was ignored until it shut down cities
and the cities too were the pandemic
and the people in them sheltered
in squalid television rooms
crazed by media violence
and their food chains were cut off
while their politicians blustered
and their black brothers were murdered
just like in those crazed tv dreams
paid for by corporations out of business
carried on the shoulders of essential workers
left without masks to face the deaths
that would overwhelm their hospitals—
all those doctors, nurses, grocers, busboys
delivering all the life and death they had
to those squalid tv rooms of media;
and this too was the pandemic
and no one knew that all were essential
and each and every one could be gunned down
one way or another in this great pandemic.
And so the people crowded together as one
but unable to talk as they were used to
and blinded by the blindfold of custom
too many ripped off their masks and marched
and became gravestones marching forward,
and this death too was of the pandemic.
And the corporations failed, and the workers
lost their jobs and their families and lives,
and the little shops on the corner were no more
than empty caves with shattered windows,
and the police marched with their badges
and the police union urged them to violence
and the NRA urged the militias to violence
and this too was of the pandemic that took us.
These were the three horsemen of the apocalypse
that came upon us in those first five months.
These were the first that came after we called
for them with our blind policies for years.
And then there were the marching dead
joining arms and marching as one, and
a gaunt grey horse starving at the corner
waiting for another rider to join in.
The Sun Goes Down Beneath Molten Clouds
After the last players have left our park
this evening I step out onto the deck by myself,
and the winds are blowing a gale from the east
while the clouds are roaring westward, and I
am cold but raise my drink toward the sunset.
The winds fill the flesh beneath my jacket.
The job says there is no reason for me to be here
where I can be scooped by the monsters of the evening.
My flesh will be swallowed as yours without reason,
but tonight as if it made a difference I will howl into the wind
and if there is no one left to hear the echoes of time
bouncing off the nova stars that lent us life long ago,
still there is a naked child within me and it is cold
and it howls with the echo of its birthplace, and
somehow that is the reason that it howls
and this night the wind blows across our souls.
Say What You Want
Say what you want about mankind’s massive skull
or the number of neurons and his complexity of thought,
he’s more like a gerbil in a cage when under pressure,
tearing the flesh off those around him stripping limbs
from his fellow creatures, leaving them on the floor,
killing himself in effect though for noble causes
because there is always a place for noble causes
as we can see from the first four months within a cage.
For two hundred years men were hated and hanged
for the color of their skin or for their poverty, but
for two hundred years it was easy to forget again and
again but not after you put all the white men in a cage
with all the black men and all the yellow men and
all native Americans too shut down in a social cage
and damn if they don’t hate each other and tear
apart the society that made them what they are and
them with no idea of how to put it right at the end.
And when the cages start to open they all pour out
and they have no words beyond their self hatred
and they crush their flesh together, flesh of animals
hungry for sex and reproduction and seduction
more like gerbils in a cage than what we call humanity.
A Haunted Graveyard of Ghosts
The mortar holding our cities together
The pavement we stride each day
The concrete sidewalks we walk
are built from crushed limestone,
are the crushed bones of life gone.
The bricks we build our homes from
The walls we lay around our homes
The statues we worship in our parks
are born of the stone of our land
ripped from the earth and shaped.
The glass windows of our offices
The mirrors in which we see ourselves
The headlights and mirrors of our cars
are glass melted from shattered rock
blown dry as sand across our deserts.
All of these are harder than our bones
All of these are harder than our flesh
All of these are harder than our souls
and the sunlight beating down upon us
beating down upon us from so far away
we think that we are among the stars.
It is Not a Soft Song
The song is never going to be a soft song
until the dead are buried and ghosts haunt our dreams.
This is the way it has always been.
The dying do not sing in churches.
Their songs must overcome those
who march with rifles and AK-47s.
Their songs must overcome starvation,
must overcome the overlords who cage them,
cannot be confined to academic halls, and yet
reverberate in the salons of wealthy patrons.
They are songs impossible to sing without rage
that fuses into sunsets one year beyond tomorrow.
Chaucer’s pilgrim wanders into Bocaccio’s Decameron
armed only with a candelabra and electric harmonica,
and grieves as the rats begin to dance again.