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Lawrence Hall Mar 2017
Re-Reading Tolkien for Lent

Across the page, across the words, soft light
Soft morning light at play this quiet day
This stand-down day when duty does not call
Not call, and life is for a few hours free

Ink on a page, now forming into songs
Songs that were old when this green world was new
And fields of flowers were as fields of stars
Fields of Creation and eternal Hope

O happy fields forever, here, right here
Across the page, across the words, soft light
Steve Page Jul 2016
There're swords,
lots of them,
and long-bows,
with fresh, eager arrows
jostle with notched expert axes;

legendary hair frame braided beards
flowing into refilled tankards
drowning curses through broken teeth
gnawing at poor personal hygiene
across the stench of the public tavern
as granite-stares challenge
bone-shattering laughter.
-
All as anticipated -
there's Orcs about
and the prescribed heroes assemble.
-
-
Slow rolling leaden mist cloaks howling creatures at dawn
from deep within the forest,
then disabling rain falls at dusk
and steel clashes with steel in the storm…
-
All these exploits ferment short of full strength
and stretch onto a wide Winter screen
before facing the final critical battle
for a 12A Christmas.
Inspired by Peter Jackson
Mary McCray  Apr 2019
True Story
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 3, 2019)

“Not all those who wander are lost.” -- J. R. R. Tolkien

I was an office temp for many years when I was young. All the companies: Kelly girls, Manpower, Adecco. I took innumerable tests in typing, word processing, spreadsheets.

The worst job was at a sales office for home siding. I logged complaints all day on the phone about faulty siding.

I worked at a construction site in Los Angeles, a new middle-class ghetto they were building on the Howard Hughes air strip. I worked in a trailer and had to wait until lunch break to walk a block to the bathroom in the new library.

There was one warehouse I worked in that had mice so employed a full-time cat to work alongside us. The cat left dead mice everywhere. I was always cold there.

A lot of places I was replacing someone on vacation, someone the office assumed was indispensable but there was never anything for me to do there but read. I wrote a lot of letters to pen pals and friends. Email hadn’t been invented yet. Sometimes I’d walk memos around the office. Nobody ever invited me to meetings. Be careful what you wish for. Sometimes it comes true and you end up sitting in endless meetings.

In one swanky office I prepared orders in triplicate on a typewriter. I kept messing up and having to start over. Eventually I started to enjoy this. It was a medical lab and was convinced they were doing animal testing so I left after a week.

One of my early jobs was as a receptionist in a war machine company. My contact there asked me to do “computer work” (as it was called then) but I didn’t know how to use a mac or a mouse. My contact called my agency to complain about sending out “girls without basic skills.” My agency told me not to worry about it, the war company was just trying to scam us all by paying for a receptionist to do “computer work.” So they stuck me at the switchboard up front where I found bomb-threat instructions taped under the desk.

I worked at a design store and learned a program called Word Perfect. I started typing and printing the letters to my friends. The St. Louis owner was trying to sell the company to a rich Los Angeles couple. Once, a young gay designer I admired called and referred to me as “the girl up front with the glasses.” I immediately went out and got contact lenses. Before I left, I bought a desk and a chair they were selling. Years later, I sold the desk to an Amish couple in Lititz, PA, but I still have the chair.

I once worked for a cheap couple running a plastic mold factory. The man was paranoid, cheap and houvering and I said I wouldn’t stay past two weeks. They asked me to train a new temp and I said okay. The new temp also found the owner to be paranoid, cheap and houvering and so declared to me she wouldn’t stay past the week either. She confided in me she had gotten drunk and slept with someone and was worried she was pregnant. She was freaking out because she was going through a divorce and already had two kids. I told her about the day-after-pill which she had never heard of. I don’t know if it worked because I never used it myself and I never saw her again after that to follow up.

At another office I did nothing at the front desk for three weeks, bored and reading all the Thomas Covenant novels. I would take my lunch break under a big tree to continue reading the Thomas Covenant novels.

I worked for months at a credit card company reading books and letting in visitors through the locked glass door. Week after week, the receptionist would call in sick. One young blonde woman would give me filing work. She was telling me all about her wedding she was planning which sounded pretty fun and it made me want to plan a wedding too. After a few weeks she asked me what my father did. I said he was a computer programmer. She replied that my dad sounded like somebody her dad would beat up. I was too shocked by the rudeness to say dismissively, “I seriously doubt that.” (For one, my dad wasn’t always a computer programmer.) When it became clear the woman I was replacing had abandoned her job, they asked me if I wanted to stay on. I said no, that I was moving to New York City. I wasn’t  (but I did eventually).

Some places “kept me on” like the mortgage underwriters in St. Louis. That office had permanent wood partitions between the desks, waist-high and a pretty, slight woman training to join the FBI. She fainted one day by the copier. It was there that I told my first successful joke ever. Our boss was a part-time Baptist minister and we loved him because he was able to inspire us during times of low morale. One day we saw a bug buzzing above us in a light fixture.  Before I even thought about it I said, “I guess you could say he finally saw the light.” Everybody laughed a lot and I turned bright red. I wrote my essay to Sarah Lawrence College there after hours at the one desk with a typewriter. My boss and I got laid off the same day. He helped me carry my things out to my car.

I worked at a large food company in White Plains, NY. I often came home with boxes of giveaway Capri Sun in damaged boxes. I helped a blind woman fill out her checks. She was really grouchy and I wasn’t allowed to pet her service dog. She had dusty junk all over her desk but she couldn’t see it to make it tidy. I realized then that she would never be able to use a stack of desk junk as a to-do list...because she couldn’t see it. You can’t to-do what you can’t see and how we all probably take this fact for granted with our piles of desk junk. Years later I had the same thought about to-do lists burned in phones or computer files.

They also “kept me on” at the Yonkers construction company. I was there for years. The British woman next to me was not my boss but she ordered me around a lot. She told me I looked like an old 1940s actress I had never heard of who always wore her hair in her face. I was annoyed by this compliment because when I looked the actress up on the Internet I could see it wasn’t true. At the time, everyone was just getting on the Internet and I was already addicted to eBay. I would leave meetings in the middle for three minute at a time to ****** items with my competitive late-second bids. It was my first job with email too, and I emailed many letters to all my friends all day long. One elderly man there thought it was funny to give me cigars (which I smoked socially at the time) and told me unsavory ****** facts to shock me. I thought he was harmless and funny and his attempts to unsettle me misguided because I had already grown up with two older brothers who were smelly and hellbent on unsettling me. Later the man started dating and seemed happier and I met his very nice older girlfriend at one of the laborious, day-long Christmas parties our Italian owners threw every year. Months later his girlfriend was murdered in her garage by her estranged husband. Most of the office left to go to her funeral and I felt very bad for him.

And they kept me on at the Indian arts school in Santa Fe. I loved every day I spent there, walking the halls looking at student art. I had never seen so many beautiful faces in one place. One teacher there confided in me about her troubles and I tried to be Oprah. She ended up having to take out a restraining order against a man she met online. At the trial, the man tried to attack the female judge and she awarded the teacher the longest restraining order ever awarded in Santa Fe: 100 years. He broke the restraining order one day on campus and we were all scared about where he was and if he had a gun. All around the school were rolling hills and yellow blooming chamisa and we found tarantulas in the parking lot. I was there almost a full school year until I moved away.

I was once a temp in a nursing temp office that had large oak desks and big leather chairs. The office was empty except for one other woman. The boss was on vacation and she spent all our time complaining about what an *** he was and how mistreated the nurses were. I remember feeling uncomfortable in the leather chair. The boss, who I never met, called me one day to tell me he had fired her and that I should know she was threatening to come back with a gun. When I called the agency they laughed it off. I told them I wouldn’t go back.

My favorite temp job was at a firefighting academy in rural Massachusetts. I edited training manuals along with two other temps. It was very interesting work. The academy was in the middle of the woods, down beautiful winding roads with old rock walls. Driving to work I would listen to TLC and Luther Vandross. And whenever I hear Vandross sing I still think of the Massachusetts woods. When I left, they let me have a t-shirt and I wore it for years. One of the trainers had a son who was a firefighter who asked me out on a date. I said I was moving to New York City (this time it was true) and not interested in a relationship. He insisted the date would be just as friends. He took me to Boston’s North End and we ate gnocchi while he told me how he didn’t believe it was right to hit women. This comment alarmed me. He then took me to a highrise, skyview bar downtown where he proceeded to **** my fingers. I thought about Gregg Allman and Cher’s first date where Gregg Allman ****** Cher’s fingers and how now Cher and I had something in common: the disappointment of having one’s fingers ******. My scary date didn’t want to take me home and I was living with my brother at the time, so I told him my brother was crazy and if I didn’t get back by ten o’clock my brother would freak out like a motherf&#$er. That part wasn’t true...but it worked. I made it home.

I used to be deathly afraid of talking to strangers on the phone. I used to be bored out of my mind watching the clock. I used to wish I were friends with many of the interesting people walking past my desk.

When I look back on all this and where I’ve been, it seems so random, meandering through offices in so many different cities. But it wasn’t entropy or arbitrary. I was always working on the same thing.

I was a writer.
Prompt:Write a meandering poem that takes its time to get to its point.
Don Bouchard Jan 2012
I remember reading
Martin Luther King, Jr's
Letter from Birmingham Jail
Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom
Mark Twain's Huck Finn
DuBois' Souls of Black Folk
For the first time

The words of Chief Joseph
Sitting Bull
Tecumseh
James Welch
and Alexie Sherman
And others of indigenous kind
Linger like arrows in my mind.

Of course, there's
Gilgamesh's forlorn quest for Enkidu;
Osiris, Amun, Ra, and Seth,
Homer's Illiad and Odyssey,
And Virgil's Roman treatment -
(For whom the gods destroy
We all must learn bereavement).

I remember reading
Milton's Paradises (lost and found)
And Dante's Infernal quest for Heaven
Through the bowels of Hell with Virgil's spritely guide
And up the Devil's staircase with Beatrice by his side.
John's Revelation of Times' End;
And LaHaye's money-making Left Behind
Apocalypses here to chill my mind.

I have surveyed Dead Presidents
Washington,
Jefferson,
Lincoln
Both Roosevelts, Ted and Frank,
And Reagan
And smatterings of others...
Then hopped the bookish pond to read
Sir Winston and some others,
Not the least of whom is Gandhi G,
Taught by the Queen to free his brothers.

I have studied
Moses
Job
David
Ruth
Esther
Isaiah
Jeremiah
The Disciples
Paul
and James
(Ironically,
Though Jesus is the "Word"
He never penned one).

British poets's thoughts,
Tale tellers long-dead
Have found their way
Into my head:
Beowulf and Chaucer
Old moral plays
Shelley and Keats
Cavalier Poets
Scott and Brownings
Burns and (not) Allen
Spenser and Shakespeare
Dylan and Tolkien
Lewis and Auden
And so many more
That I leave on the floor

Western Americana I have loved
Hemingway and Steinbeck, all worth the time,
Mari Sandoz' Old Jules, and
Rolvaag's Giants in the Earth,
Keroac went on the road, while
Joseph Kinsey Howard showed us the West
Lewis & Clark in journals scribed
Their journey west and back again

I can't forget psychology
And so I will digress
Or Sigmund's accusation stays
That I have but suppressed:
Ellis, Freud, and Eric Berne,
Pavlov, Skinner, Thorndike, Watson,
Wundt, and Wm James, Piaget and Chomsky
Then Vygotsky and Bandura put a social spin
on cognitive psychology, and Everybody's in.
Diverging and Converging, psychic students, all
Could never make transaction
'Til Rogers tried to make some peace
But Ellis wouldn't have 'im.

And then, of course,
The lighter stuff,
The popcorn of the mind:
Clancy, Rankin, Carole Keene
L'Amour and Will James
Stephen King and Poe,
Cruz Smith and Leon Uris,
Grisham, Deaver, Cornwall,
Asimov, Bradbury and Herbert,
Carroll and Baum...
Written Words change us.... I use the term "poem" as Louise Rosenblatt did, namely, a poem is the creation each reader makes to describe the connection between the Text and his or her own life experience, opinion, knowledge, beliefs, feelings, etc. Those "poems" affect and change us in our wanderings on this earth. I am, indeed, changed by the texts I have read and continue to read....
In haphazard fashion, I am starting a collection of writers who give me an understanding of the world's color and shape. This is just the beginning.... If readers have suggestions or reminders, I will add the ones I have read....
Andrew T Apr 2016
Washingtonians, this Wednesday afternoon, come to the Starbucks on 1600 K Street to become acquainted with some young, interesting, average income level Asian American guys and gals. Instead of meeting Asian American doctors, lawyers, and consultants, you’ll meet Dr. Dre copycats, alcoholic paralegals, and T-Mobile wireless salespeople.

These guys and gals are looking to meet new friends that include: white, black, Hispanic, or any other race of people, just as long as you aren’t a F.O.B. Because after all, they don’t want to perpetuate the stereotype that Asians only hang out with other Asians. Just kidding, we love our F.O.B brothers and sisters! But **** stereotypes.

If you are a Washingtonian who likes drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, stop by and make a new Asian American friend who will provide mixers and match you on a blunt. Please, do not ask these guys and gals for college study notes for Math or Bio, because all of them have dropped out of college to pursue their artistic passions, like: writing a novel about having a white group of friends and being the token who reads Tolkien and likes Toking; playing electric guitar in a grunge, punk, post-emo garage band with your black buddies who like Fugazi and bad brains but ******* hate Green day for selling out; and drawing sketches and painting portraits of the half-Asian girl you’re dating on a wide canvass, but really you’re secretly into selfies and taking photos of breakfast on Instagram.

We don’t discriminate against the kind of alcohol you drink, whether it be wine, beer, or liquor—within reason please don’t bring Franzia or Rolling rock, this isn’t college anymore. Yes, we get it, you’re highly considering attending this group because you’re a huge Haruki Murakami fan and you’re wondering two questions: are our Japanese American patrons also huge fans of the author, and do our patrons behave in a similar fashion to Murakami’s characters like Toru Watanabe and Toru Okada?

First, our Japanese American patrons are huge fans of Murakami and they own books like Sputnik Sweetheart and The Windup Bird Chronicle, but they also think the author often is obsessed with Western culture, in a way that possibly, and seriously possibly transforms him into a Brett Easton Ellis derivative based on Ellis’s American ****** and Glamorama.

Second, no these particular patrons do not behave like Murakami’s characters, because they’re real, living, breathing human beings, and not some fantasy figure or made-up person! But enough of the rant, please come though and let’s have conversations about jazz and talking cats.

While we respect Asian American actors like Ken Jeong and Randall Park, we really aren’t interested in having a lengthy dialogue about The Hangover’s Asian **** scene, or how Park was kinda offensively funny in The Interview. Although Park is awesome in Fresh Off The boat! All we really want is to just drink jack and cokes and smoke Marlboro lights and have conversations about the latest trends in indie rock and Hip Hop culture, and whether Citizen Kane was better than Casablanca, or vice versa.

At the meeting, we will have our guest speaker Jeremy Lin’s college roommate George Park answer questions about Lin, as well as a special appearance by Steve Yuen’s ex-girlfriend Marcy Abernathy who will give us an inside scoop to Yuen’s fetishes as well as his quirky habits. We will also be providing free snacks like LSD Pho noodle soup and Marijuana Mochi ice-cream. On a serious note, we’ll be giving out guilt-free Twinkies.

Before you arrive at the Starbucks, you’ll be getting a name tag and a free A.A.A T-shirt that wasn’t made by little children from China; instead, the shirts are made by Ronald Mai, our aspiring fashion designer whose twitter handle is @thatsmyshirtwhiteman! If you’re interested in coming out to the group our first meeting is this Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Leave your apprehension at the door and walk in with a warm smile, as you’re greeted by an expressionless face. And phoreal if your car is messed up and you require a ride, please call A.A.A’s number at (202) 576-2AAA (we know we’re phunny). Hope to see you there, and if you don’t come, you’re a ******* racist! But seriously come out and meet some cool *** people.
Mateuš Conrad Mar 2016
i only started collecting a library, because, would you believe it, my local library was a pauper in rags and tatters; apologies for omitting necessary diacritic marks, the whiskey was ******* on icecubes to a shrivel.*

ernest hemingway, e.m. forster, mary shelley,
aesop, r. l. stevenson, jean-paul sartre,
jack kerouac, sylvia plath, evelyn waugh,
chekhov, cortazar, freud, virginia woolf,
philip k. ****, dostoyevsky, aleksandr solzhenitsyn,
oscar wilde, malcolm x, kafka, nabokov,
bukowski, sacher-masoch, thomas a kempis,
yevgeny zamyatin, alexandre dumas,
will self, j. r. r. tolkien, richard b. bentall,
james joyce, william burroughs, truman capote,
herman hesse, thomas mann, j. d. salinger,
nikos kazantzakis, george orwell,
philip roth, joseph roth, bulgakov, huxley,
marquis de sade, john milton, samuel beckett,
huysmans, michel de montaigne, walter benjamin,
sienkiewicz, rilke, lipton, harold norse,
alfred jarry, miguel de cervantes, von krafft-ebing,
kierkegaard, julian jaynes, bynum porter & shephred,
r. d. laing, c. g. jung, spinoza, hegel, kant, artistotle,
plato, josephus, korner, la rochefoucauld, stendhal,
nietzsche, bertrand russell, irwin edman,
faucault, anwicenna, descartes, voltaire, rousseau,
popper,  heidegger, tatarkiewicz, kolakowski,
seneca, cycero, milan kundera, g. j. warnock,
stefan zweig, the pre-socratics, julian tuwim,
ezra pound, gregory corso, ted hughes,
guiseppe gioacchino belli, dante, peshwari women,
e. e. cummings, ginsberg, will alexander, max jacob,
schwob, william blake, comte de lautreamont,
jack spicer, zbigniew herbert, frank o'hara,
richard brautigan, miroslav holub, al purdy,
tzara, ted berrigan, fady joudah, nikolai leskov,
anna kavan, jean genet, albert camus, gunter grass,
susan hill, katherine dunn, gil scott-heron,
kleist, irvine welsh, clarice lispector, hunter thompson,
machado de assisi, reymont, tolstoy, jim bradbury,
norman davies, shakespeare, balzac, dickens,
jasienica, mary fulbrook, stuart t. miller,
walter la feber, jan wimmer, terry jones & alan ereira,
kenneth clark, edward robinson, heinrich harrer,
gombrowicz, a. krawczuk, andrzej stasiuk, ivan bunin,
joseph heller, goethe, mcmurry, atkins & de paula,
bernard shaw, horace, ovid, virgil, aeschyles,
rumi, omar khayyam, humbert wolfe, e. h. bickersteth,
asnyk, witkacy, mickiewicz, slowacki, lesmian,
lechon, lep szarzynski, victor alexandrov, gogol,
william styron, krasznahorkai, robert graves,
defoe, tim burton, antoine de saint-exupery,
christiane f., salman rushdie, hazlitt, marcus aurelius,
nick hornby, emily bronte, walt whitman,
aryeh kaplan, rolf g. renner, j. p. hodin, tim hilton... etc.
Lawrence Hall Nov 2018
…These men are worth your tears:
You are not worth their merriment.

-Wilfred Owen, “Apologia Pro Poemate Meo”

When that loudmouth on the wireless machine
Alludes to Western Civilization
What does he mean? Paradise Lost? Probably not
Nor Saint Paul speaking on the Field of Mars

The Kalevala, Hagia Sophia
With its pendentives lifting up our prayers
Horatius fighting to defend his bridge
And Wilfred Owen dying bravely on his

Lord Tennyson and Idylls of the King
Chapultepec, Henry V, Becket
The paratroops at Arnhem, Saint Thomas More,
His King’s loyal servant, but God’s first

The Stray Dog poets of Saint Petersburg
The brave last stand of Roland at Roncesvalles
Lewis and Tolkien and glasses of beer
Montcalm and Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham

Hildegard von Bingen, Siegfried and the Rhine
Magna Carta, HMS Hood, the Thames
The Grove of Daphne, “The Old Rugged Cross”
Beatrix Potter and her little pet rabbit

El Cid, Anne Frank, John Keats, Saint Benedict
“I Have a Dream,” Dostoyevsky, and Greene
Viktor Frankl, Dag Hammarkskjold, and Proust
Good Chaucer’s naughty pilgrims telling tales

The Gettysburg Address, Willie and Joe
Stern Saint Augustine of North Africa
Wodehouse writing a jolly bit of fun
Saint Corbinian and Bavaria

The ancient glories of Byzantium
Pius XII contra the bombs and lies
The 602nd TD Battalion
Saint Joan, the Prado, and Robert Frost

And far, far more.

When that loudmouth on the wireless machine
Alludes to Western Civilization
What does he mean?
Of your mercy please pray for the repose of the soul of Wilfred Owen who was killed in action on 4 November 1918, one week before the Armistice.
Don Bouchard Jan 2016
I remember reading
Martin Luther King, Jr's
Letter from Birmingham Jail
Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom
Mark Twain's Huck Finn
DuBois' Souls of Black Folk,
Adichie's The Thing Around Your Neck,
Sherman Alexie's Part-time Indian tale....
For the first time

The words of Chief Joseph
Sitting Bull
Tecumseh
James Welch
and Alexie Sherman
And others of indigenous kind
Linger like arrows in my mind.

Of course, there's
Gilgamesh's forlorn quest for Enkidu;
Osiris, Amun, Ra, and Seth,
Homer's  Illiad and  Odyssey,
And Virgil's Roman treatment -
(For whom the gods destroy
We all must learn bereavement).

I remember reading
Milton's Paradises (lost and found)
And Dante's Infernal quest for Heaven
Through the bowels of Hell with Virgil's spritely guide
And up the Devil's staircase with Beatrice by his side.
John's Revelation of Times' End;
And LaHaye's money-making Left Behind,
Collin's Hunger Games and Dashner's Maze Running
Apocalypses enough to chill my mind.

I have surveyed Dead Presidents
Washington,
Jefferson,
Lincoln
Both Roosevelts, Ted and Frank,
And Reagan
And smatterings of others...
Then hopped the bookish pond to read
Sir Winston and some others,
Not the least of whom is Gandhi G,
Taught by the Queen to free his brothers.

I have studied
Moses
Job
David
Ruth
Esther
Isaiah
Jeremiah
The Disciples
Paul
and James
(Ironically,
Since Jesus is the "Word,"
Through men He penned).

British poets's thoughts,
Tale tellers long-dead
Have found their way
Into my head:
Beowulf and Chaucer
Old moral plays
Shelley and Keats
Cavalier Poets
Scott and Brownings
Burns and (not) Allen
Spenser and Shakespeare
Dylan and Tolkien
Lewis and Auden
And so many more
That I leave on the floor

Western Americana I have loved
Hemingway and Steinbeck, all worth the time,
Mari Sandoz' Old Jules, and
Rolvaag's Giants in the Earth,
Keroac went on the road, while
Joseph Kinsey Howard showed us the West
Lewis & Clark in journals scribed
Their journey west and back again

I can't forget psychology
And so I will digress
Or Sigmund's accusation stays
That I have but suppressed:
Ellis, Freud, and Eric Berne,
Pavlov, Skinner, Thorndike, Watson,
Wundt, and Wm James, Piaget and Chomsky
Then Vygotsky and Bandura put a social spin
on cognitive psychology, and Everybody's in.
Diverging and Converging, psychic students, all
Could never make transaction
'Til Rogers tried to make some peace
But Ellis wouldn't have 'im.

And then, of course,
The lighter stuff,
The popcorn of the mind:
Clancy, Rankin, Carole Keene
L'Amour  and Will James
Stephen King and Poe,
Cruz Smith and Leon Uris,
Grisham, Deaver, Cornwall,
Asimov, Bradbury and Herbert,
Carroll and Baum...

The list goes on and on, and will, I'm sure, expand beyond capacity.
Work in progress.... Thanks to Soul Survivor for catching my glitch about Jesus.... Since all Scripture is God-breathed, technically, Jesus is the author of Holy Scripture, and He inspired the text we know as the Bible.... Good catch!
Joe Cole Jul 2015
What was Frodo thinking as he sunk under the burden of the one ring*

I'm slipping into the twilight world of shadows sombre grey
No more a world of sunlight
Or of birdsong summer days
Legs weary, sore, I struggle 'neath the weight
But I still must struggle on
To reach the Morgul gate
In my small hands I hold the future of mankind
For them and for their freedom I now must be prepared to die
Why me? Why me? Why was I the chosen one?
But I must think not of the past
But of a new life not yet born
Obviously I would never try to compare myself to the greatness of Tolkien but in my wild imagination I tried to place myself in the mind of Frodo
Pearson Bolt  Sep 2015
t(error)
Pearson Bolt Sep 2015
they say you'll never forget
where you were on 9/11
i was nine
i sat in the kitchen
and watched the television
play out the violence hour after hour
my child-like mind conflated the Two Towers
in Tolkien's literary fantasy
with these acts of misanthropy  
and i was taught at the dinner table
that very evening
that all of life could be reduced
to capital letters defining a
cosmic struggle of Good vs. Evil

and yet
regardless of their affiliation
on this defunct
political spectrum of
left left
left right left
politicians canonize a legacy of
injustice and oppression and
in order to suppress
democratic expression
they propagate the notion
that dissent is treason

because the wars we wage are blessed
by the sagely insight of rich old men
who sit safely in mansions protected by
picket fences as white as their skin
while they play off our emotions and
turn us into thoughtless sheep
content to stomach the whims of
politicians propagating vengeance

i will speak this out even
when my voice shakes
because i have seen the hypocrisy
of this war on terror
that relies on terror
to cultivate more terrorists
in order to perpetuate the notion
that Orwell posited

war is peace
freedom is slavery
ignorance is bliss
isn't it

in my naïveté
i rejected the reality of
torture and murdered children for
i nursed a secret hope that
despite the pictures and videos
that served as empirical evidence
we were still somehow
the good guys and
they were the bad guys

but Americans rained white
phosphorous on Fallujah
dropped the world's first
and hopefully last
atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
we toppled democratically elected socialists
whose interests betrayed our self-serving agendas
cultivating a policy of extra-judicial assassination
regime change is the name of the game
just ask the CIA
they'd tell you
business is booming but
then they'd have to **** you

so i switched off my TV screen
and picked up books
i read Slaughterhouse-V
and treasured the way Vonnegut
looks at the lives of even
bees and butterflies as valuable
intoning "so it goes"
every time a living thing dies

i read O'Brien's
recollections
of Vietnam
a month later
he said that
like white lies
tall tales and
fishermen’s yarns
every war story
has a bit of truth

and i've seen the proof
in the photographs of
Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay
in the aftermath of drone strikes
that left pieces of kids scattered
across the desert sands of foreign lands

i see the toxic side-effects of
systemic violence in the eyes
of homeless veterans suffering
on the streets with PTSD
a flicker of fear livens a
deadened gaze at the sound of
every backfiring engine
as if they're a thousand miles away
on some distant shore

betrayed by their own
government once again
a Purple Heart is
a death sentence
when there are 22
military suicides a day
thanks for your service
now die in silence

like bad religion the phrase
war crime is rather redundant
and i testify not because i
aim to disrespect the
men and women in uniform
on the contrary

when i say
**** war
it is because i
cherish every brother
and every sister
who has perished in the
churning gears of conflict

they shoved tall tales of hope
for a collegiate education
and far-flung travel
down our throats
just sign here
right along the dotted line

we want you
to march into hellfire
we want you
to send missiles into
tiny huts and villages
tracking cell phone signals
we want you
to sit down
shut up and
just do as you're told

to every fallen human who
has been sent off to fight on
behalf of this
or any other
corrupt nation
i sincerely apologize
for not taking to the streets to protest
a vitriolic ideology

i regret filing my taxes
when 54% or more of our budget goes to
military expenditures so they could
stick an M-16 in your hands
and ship you off to die for abstract
and so often arbitrary phrases like
freedom and justice for all

you were robbed of your liberty
by a capitalist system that seeks profit
like a false prophet for
bank accounts soar in times of war  
and in my apathy i hammered
nails into your coffin

and i pride myself on  
being an anti-militaristic
non-violent anarchist because
i don't hate soldiers
if i did i would remain
silent and apathetic
and let the government
abuse its youth

i celebrate humanity
regardless of ethnicity and creed
which is precisely why i despise
this system that sacrifices
generation after generation for
conquest and imperial notions

pray tell
will we turn from the
error of our ways
wake up from
this terrorist daze
before it's too late
and say

the State can try to
whitewash history but
i refuse to let them
brainwash me
I wrote this poem when a woman walked out of the venue after I read a poem about overthrowing the government. She told me her son was in the military and said he had buddies who died so I could have free speech. I wish she'd stopped so I could've responded to her the way I'd have liked to. Guess this will have to do.

— The End —