They camped for the night on the porous edge of Real,
upstream as far as possible from Sad.
They watched the lights go out, watched space congeal.
‘Can it really do that?’ asked someone who had
taken science courses. They watched goblins steal
both Joy and Meaning, leaving only Bad
in their picnic hampers where they’d thought they’d kept
enough sustenance. They suffered, then they slept.
I wanted the last sentence to be ‘They suffered. No one slept’ denoting vigilance and resistance, but their eventually forgetting and giving up seemed sadly more likely.
The beginning of these present baleful times struck me with their resemblances to the world of the mad emperor Caligula. I began to retell his story using the phrasing of the news around us. Parallels to the modern ruling corruption threw themselves into the mix. Soon I had not a short poem but some 2400 words, and a title: Caligula Unbound. I sent the text to a dozen beta readers and their enthusiastic responses encouraged me. I thought to publish it as a paperback or as an e-book. But I dithered and some time has passed. I do want to make Caligula Unbound available to more readers. So I will soon be placing it on the WordPress Earth Tourist site at birdcreekblues.com.
The ginger snaps dissolved in the ivory bathtub.
Whatever ate the sinking crumbs stayed hidden
in the steaming cloudy water. Large things stirred.
Caligula, on his horse, imagined great
futures. He placed sycophantic men
in positions of great power; he let them drown.
He laughed until he choked, unplugged the stopper.
Excerpt from CALIGULA UNBOUND
‘Corn doesn’t know he’s lying, so it’s okay,’
Medusa says, defending her meal ticket.
‘You mean Cornet,’ is what I try to say.
Medusa cuts me off: ‘The press can stick it,
that ‘et’ suffix, onto other horns:
Trump-et and Baritone-et. But my man’s Corn.
Corn lies a lot, okay? But he was born
in a weasel-wording world with lies as norm
in a wealthy world where lying was the norm.
He grew up lying. It made him who he is.
He doesn’t know he’s lying. Pundits fizz
about the lies he tells because he can.
But until truth catches up, Corn is my man.
The poor people sleep for hours in the rain.
Why? Because they are homeless, and it is raining.
To the senators in the gold towers, it seems plain
That, since the poor’s sleeping takes less energy than complaining,
they can say that the poor are lazy, to explain
why they, the senators, are right remaining
high, and dry, and feted all the more
while the sleeping people slide towards Death’s cold door.
Alms-And-Zen are bringing out a line
of Christian robots good at herding crowds.
When you ask these robots, ‘What would Jesus do?’
they divine and answer what you want to hear
and supply out-of-context supporting bits of scripture
to use against any critics you still have.
They are seriously pious looking. They resemble
the obsequious nervously frowning you-know-who
that dances attendance on the Spurious Leader.
They’re not for sale but on a five-year lease
at 70K per month including updates.
Pro tip: get a pair for only 120K.