Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Open Mike, January 28th-

I have no poem to read tonight, I told my wife.
That’s nice, she replied absent-mindedly
as she scattered walnuts on her oatmeal,
The extreme level of the crisis was somehow lost in translation-
Then suddenly she seemed to get it-
she frowned, and asked, with great concern-
Did you take out the compost?

Compost? Sure-
my poetic life is compost-
orange peels and adjectives jostling with
synonyms and rotting onion ends.
Do you know what you get when you toss
a pile of rotting onions into a bag of synonyms?
I’ve got a list-

Lists. I certainly have got lists-
Carefully nurtured lists of potential poetical topics-
topics meaningful-
topics topical-
topics dolorous,
and topics sophmorical-
What I did not have was a poem.

The shower is a good place to think, I thought-
So I took a shower and tried to cultivate
deep, poetical thoughts-
tried to tease some couplets out of my poetic muse-
Instead I got shampoo in my eyes,
jammed my face into the showerhead
and almost drowned myself in an inch and a half of water.
My muse sat on the side of the tub and snickered.
Catherine Zeta Jones would have been proud.

My muse once resembled Catherine Zeta Jones
In that Zorro movie. I wrote a poem about that-

Now my muse resembles Cathy Bates in that
Stephen King movie, Misery, the one where
she imprisons and tortures James Caan.
BUT- even though she shackles him to the bed,
and breaks both his ankles with a sledgehammer,
he still manages to write.
Lucky bastard.
My muse smiled- Good Times, she whispered.

Look, she suggested -write what you know.
Write what I know-
 What do I know?
I know I’m tired of the fucking cold and snow and ice-
I know that life in Syria’s far from nice-
And I hope John Boehner comes down with lice-
I know I’d feel sorry... -for the lice.

No.  Not going there.

Poetry is many things-
It’s the hammer of Justice,
it's the bell of Freedom,
it's the song about Love between
my brothers and my sisters-
I am not going use that tool
to write about John Boehner’s lice.

Well, my muse said-
you could always read somebody else’s poem.
I was ready to grasp at anything
Yeah, I can do that, I replied, but whose?
How about a dead poet? she suggested.
My  muse is original like that.

I happen to have one here, she said.
It’s by Jonathan Swift, and he’s pretty dead.

I grabbed the sheet she was holding.
My poetic muse,
who used to resemble Catherine Zeta Jones,
retains her sadistic sense of humor-

She’d handed me part of Swift’s self-written epitaph.
He composed it in 1731,
fourteen years before he actually died-
But hey, it’s always good to be prepared, right?
I skimmed the lines-

"For poetry he's past his prime:
He takes an hour to find a rhyme;
His fire is out, his wit decay'd,
His fancy sunk, his Muse a jade.
I'd have him throw away his pen;—
But there's no talking to some men!"

Thanks, satiric, sadistic poetic muse,
who once again looks startlingly like Catherine Zeta Jones,
Thanks. That was perfect.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Open Mike, January 14, 2014

At this time of year we are all told to “count our blessings”.
You put on a bright yellow smiley-face face mask,
Screw your courage to the sticking place,
and look at what’s good in your world.
But I hold this truth to be self evident-
          all blessings are not created equal.

Blessings, in today’s America, are like speech-
You can buy them with cold, hard cash.
In today’s America, if you’re rich-
You’ve got a lot of blessings to count.

If you’re rich, you can count your blessings-
because you can afford the best politicians
money can buy to write laws
to make you even more money
To buy yourself even more politicians.
Don’t call it Corruption, call it “An Investment”.

If you’re rich, you can count your blessings-
Because politicians have convinced us that we can
only get the poor to work harder by paying them less,
and the rich to work harder by paying them more.

If you’re rich, you can count your blessings-
because the tax laws written by the politicians you bought
Make your stock-dividend income taxable at a lower rate
than the wages of the single mother who cleans your office,
or the green-card immigrant who mows your lawn.
Don’t call that “Unfair”. Call that “Free Enterprise”.

If you’re rich, you can count your blessings-
Because Glenn Beck just declared
That the reformed Scrooge was a wussy, pussy Socialist
and the old Scrooge was an All-American role model.

If you’re rich, you can count your blessings-
because even though you inherited your wealth,
everybody is sure you deserve every bit of it,
and it’s the the 18-hour a day, minimum wage workers
the media calls “Lazy, undeserving takers”.
Don’t call that “Hypocrisy. Call it “Fair and Balanced”.

If you’re rich, you can count your blessings-
because although “energy independence” means
ripping apart the West Virginia countryside,
and ruining the well-water in farmland Kansas,
They’ll never allow a wind farm off the coast
within sight of your beach house.

If you’re rich, you can count your blessings-
because when you finance a leveraged buy-out
that bankrupts a healthy company,
and then you sell the parts off to China for a handsome profit,
and end up putting 3,000 people out of work,
Fox won’t call you a thug, they’ll call you a job-creator.

If you’re rich, you can count your blessings-

Because it’s you who gets to vote for the wars
that poor people’s sons and daughters get to go and die in.

If you’re rich, you can count your blessings-
Because there is an entire news network
dedicated to proving that Jesus
was a white, Protestant CEO from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
And he said that it’s easy for a rich man to get into Heaven,
and it’s easy for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle,
Because the rich man owns Heaven,
and he owns the camel, and he owns the needle.

If you’re rich, you can count your blessings-
Because that poor person caught with an ounce of weed?
He’ll spend the next fifteen years in your privatized, for-profit prison,
and because he’s an ex-con he loses his right to vote,
So he can’t vote for reform politicians to change those laws,
and isn’t that what Democracy is all about, Charlie Brown?

If you’re rich, you can count your blessings-
because if you’re a banker who commits massive mortgage fraud,
and costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars,
You get a golden parachute payoff, and seat on the Board of Directors.
And if you were REALLY bad?  We’ll even discuss
making you a member of the Federal Reserve.

If you’re rich, you can count your blessings-
and declare proudly that “We’re all in this together!
You guys all row the boat!
I’ll stand here in the bow,
sipping my martini,
watching for icebergs.”

If you’re rich, you can count your blessings-
because poems like this
listing all the blessings you have that others don’t,
are reviled as “Class Warfare”.

If you’re rich, you can count your blessings-
and tell the poor to count their blessings,
Because blessings are better than money, right?
And because telling people that keeps them quiet,
and passive, and poor.