Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Friendly Fire

Friendly Fire

I'd had a long career
as a National Guardsman
--soldier in the war against
ourselves--until that day
Monday, May 4, 1970.

That day I shot Jeffrey Miller
on another grassy knoll in Kent, Ohio.

Graduated JFK High School
Plainview, New York, had transferred
to Kent State from the University
of Michigan after his brother left.
Had left a hole in his life—they’d
shared a birthday for twenty years.

He made friends quickly,
loved his new life. Wrote home
to his mother. Studied hard.

That morning I fought with my wife.

The dispute arose surrounding
the burial site of our only son.
A casualty of that other war,
the one over there, in someone
else's backyard.

Our choices were Arlington or an old
family plot. A hero's funeral or a son.
We come from a long line of
servicemen--cops, firemen, soldiers.

Jeffrey had been late to class.
Used that area to save time, not
knowing  it was under siege.

He threw a can of tear gas back
at me in defense, not defiance.
Neither a revolutionary nor terrorist.
Both of us responding out of fear.
Both caught in the crossfire.

I remain armed only with words,
even the unsayable ones

Worker Bee

Worker Bee

You have been here one month
lying on your back, unburied
leg raised skyward

blackened, mummified
fallen, mid-flight
wings intact— upon

a shroud. Faded, yellow
covered with imitation

black-eyed susans
on the raised platform of a deck
hidden from the sky

under the protection
of the overhang
your life’s work, divine purpose

one drop of honey beside you
fossilized amber

gold gleaming in the sunlight.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Divine Intervention

Dear Joan--

How much easier for you
knowing your part in The Big Plan!
Divine purpose being so much
less ambiguous than say
Temporal Lobe Lesions
causing Extremes of Emotion
with Hyper Religiosity
and sensations of 'Eating' or Yellow
like Van Gogh or Plath
or mere outdated Daddy Issues

Although perhaps while burning
you may have briefly
experienced a lapse of courage
lost your faith
thinking your God had forsaken you

In your day they took it seriously
when one claimed that God
or the Devil made them do it
although a sign being still
required  for you the word of a king
being good enough

Had you not fried
like a KFC menu option
your Black Box
as the Almighty They
have decided to nickname the Brain
and all its complex
reasoning and faulty wiring

would've become lab material
more food for Men's brains
and merely Science instead
of World History

Thankfully no 30 minute meals for you
that don't account for hours
of shopping and chopping
and prep time
or traffic to contend or compete with
recipes to swap from The Chew
or bad Facebook photos

or your mother's loom
as you would've preferred

You skated really
the day-to-day torture
of a needy man
price of gas, carpools, weather
bitchy teenagers
crabbing that their iPad knockoff
isn't as good as the real one
with Retinal display
or enough memory for infinite apps

cyber bullies
online ophiles
cars and bars and other divine wars
Righteousness and martyrdom
so much less complicated
than malls and groupons and xanax

O to be a warrior in God's army!
Fighting on the side of Justice and Light
alongside a man in his natural element
away from diaper changes
and electric bills
and pubescent rages
easy-no-tool furniture from ikea
latest virus or diarrhea
no broken homes or alcoholic parents--
Just show up, fight and dramatically die
dressed as a man.

We should all be so lucky.

Everyday Goddess

Used to be all women rolled into one;
Yet many days I felt like none.

Once able to shine, thought I could sing;

Told you think you know every thing!

Daughter of Zeus and Leda the Swan;

No chicken or quail, a bird to look upon.

Trapped by marriage to a boring man;

First chance to leave I took up and ran--

Vainglorious wings once broken free;

A simple Wooden Horse betraying me.

An end finally came to the war I'd caused;

Whose carnage only serv'd to give me pause

That one face could launch a thousand ships;

Slaughter of young men for a wayward kiss

Igniting all the same Old Men's Wars;

Those who never learn from bloody shores.

My husband Menalaeus came at night;

Claimed his Queen of Sparta as his Divine right

Drew back his sword and swore an oath--

How long will it take this bitch to roast?

I stood steadfast prepared to die;

But no Goddess ever dares to cry

Swallowed hard pulled back my robe;

Exposed my heart remained composed.

Beauty and honor moved his sword away;

His wife once again I became.

*Helen of Troy

Now I scratch my head and my nose;

My skin is dry between my toes.

Its true all they say about a rose--

Yet she dares want more than to be a rose

Though others envy or prize it highly;

She prefers to be another thing entirely.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

dear water music variation from mw workshop with tony p

dear water music  
        You called me here without your voice

you know exactly

               and we switched life stories--

how I love my coffee

                    ancient tellings

shaded with delirium

        you think are lost to time

friendly fire

        but let me remind you that time

on sunny mornings

                    is a convenient illusion

clearly offering something

                         and 'lost' just a process of returning


        back home

familiar treacherous clumsy translation

         ghost of coffee

of a violet symphony and earth toned

                               brewing in the morning

stained glass monogamy
                  we both know

creating harmony

                            its always been brewing

accidentally on purpose

Monday, March 24, 2014

Unravelling the Fabric of America (working title)

Unravelling the Fabric of America (working title)
by Danny Baker and Kelly Powell

Driving down the highway
Looking for something meaningful to do
On a cold, sunny March afternoon
At the Crossroads of Spring and Winter

Feeling a bad election coming on
Gonna work that line into a better song
More and more and more good, hardworking people
Getting less and less to show for it
The Man grinding slaves into a machine


I feel a Revolution coming on
In the backroads and streets of America
I feel a Revolution coming on
Millions of working in poverty strong

Occupied a piece of prime real estate in New York City
A couple of years ago already
With sleeping bags and speeches, books and high ideals
Rhetoric for evolution of the masses

We felt a revolution coming on
Millions of people strong
We felt a revolution coming on
Nothing truly gained, nothing really changed

Look at what happened to Tankman
Had the power to stop a tank with his bare hands
in Tianenman Square
Disappeared into history, tortured and annhilated
Or did he just end up running a tourist shop in Schnectady?
Which ending makes us feel better?

There's a Revolution coming on
Everyone breaking into song
There's a Revolution coming on
Probably already too far gone

Kennedys and Seegers dead or done cleaning up the rivers
Nader stopped running, whining no one came out to vote
But I hear on the small print at the back of the newspaper
People keep writing in his name on ballads (ballots) just the same

Someone's always crying for a Revolution
Mostly don't know where its going
Someone's always crying for Revolution
Just not looking at what they're doing
Then they're crying when it comes

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Other King

Some people feel like I'm some kind of hero. Others hate me. They say I deserved it. Other people, I can hear them mocking me for when I called for an end to the destruction, like I'm a fool for believing in peace.

--Rodney King

They found him lying in his pool
like a Whitney Houston or Brian Jones
engaged to be married
to one of the jurors
who presided over his civil case
against the City of Angels
and the officers that beat him

They found him legally
intoxicated with alcohol and cocaine
at the time of his beating
and at the time of his death.

He had enjoyed several years
of sobriety before succumbing
to one of his terminal diseases
celebrity or life