What can you say about the march
That caused the sweat that took the starch
From collars worn by members who
Live doing what they're told to do--
Passing laws for points to please
The ones they're hoping to appease
To get the votes to win again
The chance to serve the rich white men?
All the fighting's over money.
No, I'm going to take that back.
The fighting's for the milk and honey;
Fighting's for the things we lack--
Enjoying life and having shelter,
Having plenty food to eat;
Letting kids run helter-skelter--
Perking up a quiet street;
Drinking water, breathing air
That's clean and sweet and fresh;
Relationships that treat us fair;
Respecting all born into flesh.
Religion's not the cause we fight--
It's a means used to unite.
I've seen enough to know that we
Are all the same--come down to need.
Our enemies amount to three:
Ignorance, fear and stubborn greed--
The credo of the ruling class:
You're nothing if you don't kick ass.
"I need to talk to you," he said,
You follow to his office where
The heavy air is dripping dread--
You know he's going to kill you there.
Boss, an envelope in his hand,
Tells you, "Sorry, this is hard.
I just hope you'll understand,
We hold you, still, in high regard--
But we have to let you go."
Security guard behind you now.
"You didn't fit in with the flow--
It wasn't working. Anyhow,
Here's your check, so here you are--
Joe will see you to your car."
Joe's a mild, common name
Among the Christian nations.
There'll be a name that fits the same,
Flowing through the generations
Of other cultures everywhere--
From homeless to the millionaire.
The day you made the birds shut up
Still makes me laugh inside.
We were talking big stuff, yup,
But trees were filled with pride--
Birds returning for the spring
On their way up north;
Couldn't think to hear them sing,
Calling back and forth.
You got up from beer and yelled,
Shut the fuck up. Birds got still.
You'd stood up, the silenced jelled
The mountainside. We sat until
The words came out, and what you said
Still rings aloud inside my head.
THE PROBLEM WITH INNOCENTS
People fool me all the time,
Maybe I'm a fool with trust.
I'm usually right but sometimes slime
Gets on me and it forms a crust
Upon my senses, makes me numb
To feelings, having been so dumb.
ZEN EGO SPLIT
I like living on the edge
Of things to get a different view;
Like taking up a ten-pound sledge
To drive a wedge until it's through
A round and split a nasty knot;
Like sharing what I seldom got.
How'd Marx live, wife, kids and all?
He wrote. He didn't have a job.
Wife would sometimes have to crawl
To publishers who're out to rob
Marx of work they owed him for.
Crawled for milk to give her baby--
Dried up, nipples cracked and sore.
Publishers wrote her back, uh, maybe.
His writing partner, slick at prose,
Engels, would help him pay a bill--
Even helped whenever those
Carbuncles on his ass would kill
His writing with pain that wouldn't cease--
With opium Engels brought from Greece.
TO THE ONE WHO KNOWS ME
You tell me that you love me more
Than all the stars there in the sky.
I tell you things I've not before,
Not bothered when you ask me, why?
I tell you that I just don't know.
You know enough to let it go.
The reason for the secrets is
Not for our security.
The government's taking care of biz--
Hides behind obscurity
What's going on, at any hour--
All it takes to hold on power.
Your touch sparks the rhythms to
My heart to pulse the flow
To deep warm lakes to dive into
To see what lies below
The comely surface of your face--
And disappear without a trace.
VIOLA AND THOSE VIOLINS
A victim of the decoy love--
Shy man falling for the flirt.
She sprinkled dreams like stars above,
Then kicked his dick into the dirt.
Chance his dreams be giving birth
Light-years away from planet earth.
Took time for her to fall in love.
She couldn't promise--she'd been hurt
From fists beneath the velvet glove
Slipping up inside her skirt.
Sex a measure of her worth--
Surviving being mother earth.
There's nothing left to use to fight
The awesome power of the state,
In terms of arms, except the might
Of suicide bombs that devastate
The will to keep supporting those
Who're bringing history to a close.
There's more than suicidal neighbor.
And strike, withholding labor--
Even when they demonize
You, hoping for your suicide
Making you think hopes have died.
Then there're things for fools like me,
Thinking they've a gift for art,
Dreaming up how things can be;
Showing where shit gets its start
Living in these dangerous times--
About which some just make up rhymes.
Whip takes the oath? Whip can keep it--
Up its ass for all I care.
They can take the guilt and heap it
On me all they want, I'll bear
It fine, I'll break the oath--
Break it, swear I didn't, both.
Contractor building a parking lot
Fired his workers on May 1st.
They didn't show up for work, were caught
Up in the day--and so he cursed
The Mexicans, and now behind
The profit that he had in mind.
Too bad he paid them Friday, now
The dreams he had, time won't allow.
Next day he brought his son to work--
Boy didn't want to be there.
Sat on his ass--thought, dad's a jerk,
Times he caught his angry stare.
He had better things to do
Than shoveling dirt--a one-man crew.
He wasn't made to do this shit,
Tonight he might tell dad he's quit.
I paint what I see, Diego said
To the man who hired him,
When asked about the commie Red
In the mural, so fired him--
He wasn't paying for the likes
Of Lenin, Trotsky, workers' strikes.
Tore down the mural, what a shame,
Rockefeller Center's not the same.
GOD BLESS AMERICA
We're lying on a bed of roses
In these United States.
From homeless to the lifted noses,
From birth to pearly gates,
Everyone here has got it made
Compared to those who've daily prayed
For food, clean water, day of peace--
Free of raids by secret police.
You're seeing pictures of the war--
Torture, shots of body parts
Of women and children--unholy gore.
Have to stop it before it starts
Because in war, it's anything goes--
That's what every soldier knows.
The earth itself will not survive
Without a fundamental change.
Nothing will be left alive
Unless we manage to arrange
The work, the wealth, and human care
In such a way we all can share.
Dreaming, dreaming you were here--
Fantasizing you'll appear
At my door. I'd let you in
With a happy, happy grin.
Instead it's dreams, not sleep I want--
Silent dreams that creep to haunt.
YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD
Pardon me for being blunt--
PARKING SPACE NAZI
Your parking sense is lacking.
Drive up to the drive in front,
Or the one behind you, backing
Up until there's space for two.
And thank you, next time, if you do.
Too distant are the thoughts and cares
Of living in the past;
And distant is the one who dares
To take the chance to blast
Into the future, breaking things
Until the chime of good sense rings.
THE CONTRADICTION OF PRODUCTION
With ownership out of the mix,
The misery would be over.
Actually, a simple fix
Would put us all in clover.
Ownership, I mean, of what
Causes famines from a glut.
GEEK ANTHEM TO THE WORKING CLASS
Been called a weirdo, geek, a nut,
Been shoved and held against a wall--
Laughed at, bullied, but you know what?
I couldn't help but love them all.
Not that I'm a masochist,
But there's a reason for the fist.
With some basic understanding,
I come in for an easy landing.
THE RICH ARE DIFFERENT FROM YOU AND ME--
Due to the fact we make them rich,
THEY HAVE MORE MONEY
They keep their distance, when they can,
From the working class and switch
Sides of the street--it's safer than
The likelihood of confrontation
With a fed-up, angry nation.
You've taught me how to live, you know,
You've taught me how to give and go
To places where I've never been
And find the strength that lies within.
How safe can you get than write a rhyme
Exposing sins and coddled crime
The ruling class commits today?
Silly safe, what can I say?
You'll find it in the gossip pages
As well as front page news;
Or even columns from the sages
Whose facts back up their views.
It's all the same seen from the street--
The system has the people beat.
WELL, EXCUSE ME
The rhythms change from time to time,
The rhythms that go rhyme to rhyme.
That's all right when said aloud--
But done on paper, changes shroud
The beat with complications that
Stifle that creative scat.
What might ruffle up your poise,
Is living with the city noise.
Might as well not think at all
As try to think through caterwaul
Of traffic gunning down the streets--
And like hard rain: rush-hour sheets.
She is wishing I could give
What he is giving on good days;
Me, I'm wishing I could live
Two lives a going both a-ways.
More than this old man can do--
No law against her loving two.
THE LOGAN INN
There's a bar in Logan Heights,
Serves beer at half the usual price.
Not a bar known for its fights--
Signs on the wall that put it nice--
De favor, don't be a fuck.
Or, trashing women has got to suck.
At the bar where beer is cheap,
Music what you want it to be,
You can watch someone go deep
On the field on sports TV.
Respect is what will cost you most--
Don't show it, your ass could be toast.
Few ladies come in--the bartender's one.
Serving regulars Sunday morning--
Salty Marina, a ray of sun.
Comes with this unspoken warning--
You mess with her, you fuck with all,
From early morning to last call.
The Logan Inn has got no sign,
Out front on Logan Avenue.
Doesn't need one, doing fine
As a barrio bar can do.
Regulars buying beers for those
They don't even know, that's how it goes
At the Logan Inn, where beer
Is cheap and laughs are loud.
It's not for you if you steer clear
Of places that might get too loud.
Angels pull up at night in cars,
Mongols hanging from handle bars.
Those nights are dicey as you'd expect.
You'll be fine as long as you
Show the bikers due respect.
And those nights, whatever you do,
Don't lean on their ride with your cigarette,
That might be something you'll regret.
Every time I think that I
Outsmarted her, she takes it to
Another level, say the sky.
After that, what can I do
Except to say, OK, OK?
(I'm getting smarter every day.)
The system has become the brick
That holds us under 'til we kick.
They use the law to tie us down.
Instead of using common sense,
They manufacture ways to drown
Our spirit with the raw pretense
Our freedom's threatened by a flaw--
They need to make another law.
QUESTIONS OF UNIVERSAL SUICIDE
How long before we nuke ourselves?
How long before we end it all?
How long before the devil delves
Into us all to make the call
For Armageddon? Why go on
When every hope we have is gone?
You won't see it telling lies--
Acting macho, talking shit.
But you'll see it in her eyes--
The care--when you get over it.
Otherwise? A salty bitch--
Not about to scratch your itch.
William Carlos Williams wrote
A poem for you and me.
Between the time too young to vote
And worried about senility--
Love was lost. You shared the verse.
I put my feelings in reverse.>
A stranger to myself, that's true--
Decades later, have a clue.
You may have made a happy man,
But, instead, I turned and ran.
You need someone to show you how,
And you'll become a hero--
True believer. No know-how, now,
But now you're going to zero
In on what will make you great,
Step from footsteps once your fate.
Keep paths winding, get them lost
On phantom trails to your patch--
For peace of mind--for it'll cost
You plenty, if it's you they catch.
Shield your weakness, hide your strengths,
Try to keep them both down low.
The enemy will go great lengths
To strike, and to avoid, a blow.
And never over-estimate
The strength or weakness of the State.
Listen carefully to the voices
Of the chosen making choices.
And those who have no voice at all,
Pay attention for the call.
Her teacher, 30 steps away--
A blast, hot wind, the choking dust--
A shell that hadn't gone astray,
But how, then, does a child adjust
To life? She saw her teacher run
Ten steps without her head--life's done,
For the teacher and the child--
Memory warps the times she's smiled.
Wish you health, sweet love, good news.
I'm wishing that with all my heart--
You'll shed the pain, heartbreak and blues,
And enjoy a brand new start.
You've been my friend who's kept me up
'Til coffee filled my morning cup.
The Net has got to be,
To every bureaucratic fool,
A headache for security.
How can they stop the information
From spreading to another nation?
Or spreading amongst ourselves who know
What's on the news is just for show?
We've all hopes for a solution
Somewhere down the line.
The left and right resign
Their hasty selves to duke it out--
Forgetting what life's all about.
They want to keep us focused on
The sex, the war, or fame
Of recent stars--the curves or brawn
Of notables and name.
"They" being ones who run the show--
The ones who're making all the dough.
ART FOR ART'S SAKE
Needled by the thorns and thistles;
Slipping on the driveling syrup;
Deafened by the bells and whistles;
Feet are bounced out of the stirrup
On the ride towards purity
In art and its integrity.
MOM AND APPLE PIE
Fuck fatherhood. Your father is
The system ruling over you.
It's made him, and it shapes his
Decisions what he's going to do.
So he's a dick, get over it.
The system makes us all eat shit.
Just to show you that she owns you,
She'll jump onto your empty lap.
Sits up proud and what she'll do
Is turn away and you're the sap
Who'll stroke her fur until she's won
You over--jumps down when she's done.
Trying to touch when you've been burned--
Especially when you're shy--
Is difficult at least. You've learned
To let the chances slip on by,
You stay in your cozy shell
And thinking that it's just as well.
Waited this long--might as well wait
Until I'm dead and gone
To see this ugly world get straight
About what's right and wrong.
The meaning of the golden rule
Has drowned in pools of fossil fuel.
Had my parents been good commies
I would have listened more;
Heeded warnings of tsunamis
Bearing down upon the poor
Student, worker, artist, poet.
Were they right? I wouldn't know it
When they lectured what was right--
Hypocrisy, their guiding light.
All they got from me was sass--
Spitting on the ruling class.
BAD AND UGLY
For most of us to see what's good
About the world is easy.
There's love and nature; neighborhood;
Excitement in the breezy
Tease from gentle winds that warm
The heart and fill the open mind;
Marvel in a honeybee swarm;
The sweetness souls are sure to find
In loved ones arms embracing them;
The kindness that a neighbor shows--
Unselfish with their care to stem
Storm driven tides misfortune blows.
There's a beautiful world, no doubt;
A blessing that you point it out.
Then there're neighbors next to you
Whose life's a crime or crying shame;
Or someone you love--all you do
Can never make them feel the same.
Much worse things we hate to see--
A stubborn world that's stupid, crazy:
The crimes against humanity;
And disasters lame or lazy
Politicians give no time
To deal with--they've got concerns--
Like how to make their ratings climb,
And fiddle while the fire burns.
It's an ugly world, no doubt--
Important that you point it out.
LEONARD TO CATATONIC
Saw Christ in the mirror--thought he'd come,
And you decided to take a rest.
You left smiling, retreating from
The people who'd been such a test--
Made yourself home in the loony bin,
Doing no harm nor giving in.
Little pink knapsack on your back,
Walking your way home from school.
The big boys likely make a crack,
Or creepy pedophiles drool.
Am I so naive or did
A walk home used to be so good?
Long time since I've been a kid--
What's happened to the neighborhood?
Or was I lucky? Still the same?
Still the same and nothing's changed?
More talk about a crying shame?
Just more people, still estranged?
School girl, thinking of those days
That you're not burned by someone's gaze.
Waiting for the phone to ring,
Holy shit, I'm sixty-four!
Like a kid, I feel the sting--
I'd do better with a whore
Who wouldn't make me feel like this.
Ah, but I so loved your kiss.
Your neighbors are strangers who've nothing to do
With strangers who are the likes of you.
Not that you're different, the neighbor's afraid--
Their trust in others sadly decayed.
Too many out there cut a short fuse,
Too many out there with nothing to lose.
Who'd they learn it from? Not us.
We'd never do a thing like that.
We target evil, not a bus.
Combat's where our killing's at.
Nor did ever General Custer
Spread what terror he could muster.
SONNET ON RULING CLASS POLICY
Forests fall, rewarding those
Who'll never live to see the day
The silted river overflows--
Washing someone's dreams away.
Warmer oceans will flood cities;
Fresh water poison us and ours;
And death to anyone who pities
Who the ethnic cleansing scours.
Pitted one against another,
People follow those who lead,
Even when the leaders smother
Them to death or let them bleed
For God and country, sect or tribe;
Stupidity easy to describe.
JUST LIKE THE FIRST TIME
Become a fool, come the crush
For the one who caught your eye
Who's so direct they make you blush.
You feel like you want to die
If you can't have them--lose your cool,
And melt into a love sick fool.