PRAVDA

If I was in Russia I
would have no problem
finding a title for this poem
for it would be The Last.

I would write that I mourn
the children, men, and women
sacrificed to assuage his
warped need for domination.

I would write that I detest
his disregard of truth,
supplanting it with his lies
to justify his megalomania.

I would write that I stand
with the people of Ukraine
and for that I would pay with
my words, and perhaps my life.

VICTOR

In our time
of never-ending war,
punctured by the briefest
lulls we now call peace,
someone, someones
more likely, will talk
about whom will be
the victor, to whom
shall go the spoils.
Bierce, that perpetual
cynic, reminded us
that peace was a period
of cheating between
two periods of fighting.
But no one pauses
to consider that
in any war there are
no true victors
only the victims
unwillingly offered up
in sacrifice to delusion.

First appeared in Jimson Weed, Volume XLI, New Series Vol. 25, Number 2, Fall 2022
https://view.publitas.com/university-of-virginias-college-at-wise/jimson-weed-fall-2022/

LISTING

I suppose I should
make a list of the things
I don’t very much like.

I’m an optimist so the list
won’t be all that long, though
it grows the more I think about it.

I was going to put
my ex-wife on the list
but she doesn’t like me
and I have no feelings
for her either way.

So it’s down to
autocrats and would be
autocrats, and customer service
people who have no idea
of what that title entails.

Oh, yes, and lima beans
and cauliflower pizza crust.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY

I am just wondering
what you would say
if you were called
to testify about all
that you had seen,
all that had disgusted you,
all that you condemned
but did and said
nothing while it occurred.
What would you say
if you had no choice
but truth, no shading,
no mincing of words,
just the harsh light
and you in a chair
in an empty room,
a disembodied voice
asking endless questions?
It is best that you
remain silent, say
nothing at all,
for we have already
judged you, and you
know your own guilt.

First appeared in Literary Cocktail Magazine, Fall Issue 2022, Volume I Issue II
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VEgeWfNp5SFGSm8nW8QegM1WuNUa_s99/view

RETURN

He arrived today
although none saw him coming.
He had been here before,
been quickly ignored,
despite his pleas and prayers,
they twisted his words
to suit their venal desires,
his message forever lost in translation.
They were not ready,
and in their hate fueled world,
they might never be.

GREAT DIVIDE

The truck, a white Ford F-150
with oversized tires was parked
on the lawn next to the small
parking lot, filling quickly as people
arrived for the community market.

There was a giant flag fixed
to the bed of the truck, unavoidable
flapping in the breeze,
“Let’s Go Brandon,” and everyone
knew the message all too well.

Some averted their eyes, a few
smiled, and as many gave
the well known one finger salute,
aware that they ought not hate
the hater, but unable not do do so.

Colors, blue, red, purple cease
to matter in the face of such a blatant,
almost rabid effort that can only
widen the rift that is slowly tearing
our civilized society apart.

WE FIND OURSELVES

We are wholly innocent
we are wracked with guilt.
There is nothing we did,
but what is there that we
did not do, that we
should have done, that we
might have said so it would
never have happened, or
happened less, or happened
despite everything we did?

We carry our innocence
as a badge, we wear our guilt
as an albatross around our neck,
dragging us, slowing us,
forcing us to acknowledge
our guilt, plead our innocence.

In the streets of Ukraine
the war, the destruction continues
as we, the innocent, the guilty
can only watch in horror.

WE WANT, AGAIN

We want to cry out,
but we have no words.

We want to scream
but all we give is silence.

We want to curse the invader
but cannot be heard
over the tanks, bombs
and rockets.

We want to mourn
but there are so many
innocents, where
do we begin?

We want to act,
but we are incapable
and can offer
only silent prayer.

EXTINCT

You want us to believe
you are small, kind creatures
sucking hungrily on the teat
of democracy.

We see you for who
you really are, parasites
who would suck the teat
dry until democracy
withered and died.

Some believe you,
accept you blindly
but what will they do
if you succeed, for like
any invasive species
when the host is gone
there is only mourning.