If the 5% disappeared
And the 95% became the 100%
There would be a tomorrow.
We could buy maybe another hundred years
To get our shit together.
There would be an ease of panic.
The doomsday clock would back off
A few minutes from midnight.
Everyone in the world would have enough.
It’s possible. See,
We aren’t all equal.
We’re not all the same.
We’re not all in the same boat.
Some are in a sinking raft
Trying to get to a safe landfall.
Some are in a sturdy lifeboat
With cover and adequate rations.
And some are in a yacht
Partying their brains out.
(I didn’t even know how to spell yacht.)
Guilt is a funny thing.
If you’re guilty
Guilt becomes your yoke
And people who are looking for workers
To service their estates,
Clean up after their mess,
Educate their children,
Groom their dogs,
Don’t have to look far for help.
If we want to make the crisis go away,
First we have to stop feeling guilty
And realize that we aren’t the problem.
The problem is that we,
In the lifeboat
Think that we are the problem,
And guilt is devouring
Our ability to act.
The problem is
That we are
Taking on the guilt
That belongs to those who are truly guilty.
No, we are not all in the same boat.
But the ones in the sinking raft
Can use some help.
And the ones in the yacht?
They have to know they are guilty.
We were at Shelby’s at the bar and Jeff,
Who was watching Fox News,
Slams down his empty bottle
I’m so sick of hearing about damn red herrings
I’m going to catch me one.
Is anyone with me?
A chorus of Ayes and Aye captain!
Jeff’s boat had just come out of dry dock.
We all knew it was just an excuse
To get out of painting his basement,
But we were all on our third or fourth brew
And it didn’t take much.
So we were going to catch some red herring!
We’re all Bernie-supporters and
Were buoyed by his recent wins in the primaries
And the appearance of the sparrow
At his Portland rally.
As I say, it doesn’t take much.
The seas were heavy and white-capped
As soon as we cleared the jetty.
If it was just the lifting and rolling
It wouldn’t have been a worry
But the wind was gusting from the southeast.
Never a good sign;
Even I know that.
Occasionally we would get nailed
And the boat would shudder.
We were having a bad day in the asylum,
A bad 8 years, a bad sixteen years,
Oh, heck, a bad era,
Well, let’s face it, a bad history.
But we had a good leader for a change,
A guy from Vermont
With wild white hair,
An honest man
Who most people liked and trusted
Who openly talked about revolution.
We were all hurting,
Waiting for a sign.
Time was rushing by.
Days, weeks, months.
We were all serving life-sentences
That is, living in America.
Me in Vermont, you in Pennsylvania,
My good friend Tim in California. . .
And the feeling was ominous and ubiquitous.
Like a Stephen King novel.
There were distant mountains
Occasionally a forest would fall down.
Bees were going extinct.
Japanese children were eating Minke whales in school.
The government was busily making tiny atom bombs.
But who knew what was real anyway?
Some of us had turned to prayer
The electrodes were pulled,
The thing woke, shaking off its death-trance,
Got up, looked around.
We had a monster.
It is ours.
We created it
Out of provincialism,
And our fear of everything.
It swam up out of the depths of our
Not taking ourselves seriously,
Evolved out of our choosing war every time.
It grew fat in the nursery of our cultivated indifference,
Descended when we lost our appetite for principles.
It started by devouring our dreams.
It licked its shark teeth
When we let the angry neighbor convert us.
When we let the self-righteous
Do all the praying,
Its shadow crossed the land.
When we gave up on each other,
When we gave up on the land,
That was when we felt its breath on our necks.
When we stopped voting our conscience
And invested all of our naiveté in a virtual future,
That was when we summoned it
To lurch forward.
And when we abandoned the hope of the moment,
That was when it knew it had a home!
You know, that old place
That we used to call home?
Where the door now stands
Wide open to the wind and rain,
Where the windows rattle
When the fracking earthquakes shake the land?
Where the paint peels
On the empty farm stand?
Our monster sits on the leaning porch
Just like a human
Waiting for the world to end,
Like a damn politician.
Wow. I had a dream that went on all night.
There was a pink bear sighting in Alaska.
Then there were pink bear sightings
In South Dakota and Colorado,
All thought to be hoaxes but then
The New York Times published a photo, front page;
It looked real enough.
The article interviewed a hiker
Who reported talking to the Pink Bear.
He said it was standing up.
When asked what the bear said
The hiker said he couldn’t repeat it;
The bear was talking trash.
The hiker said the bear was heading for Washington.
What happened next is hard to believe.
(I mean in my dream it was hard to believe.)
There were signs that great changes are coming:
Mount Shasta was waking up, sending out a plume of ash.
Native Americans warning, This is it.
There was a black-out in Washington
And when the lights returned
Someone had painted the Abraham Lincoln monument
Blackface, black hands.
And CODEPINK managed to cloak
Half the Washington Monument in pink.
My brother and I learned to shoot
At summer camp.
That is where gunpowder
Became my favorite smell;
It had a tangy burned pungency
That hung in the air after each shot,
Better than Christmas.
After five or six shots
We would all run up
To inspect our targets
Even though our acute vision
Had already reported back our score.
With our guns
We were all rebel-princes,
Hooded heroes and highwaymen,
Plotting ways to defend the commoner
From our hideaway
In the king’s forest.
And then there was the boy
Who shot his whole family
In the same town as our camp.
They knocked down the house,
Bulldozed it flat and planted pine trees
Over the spot.
The name of the boy
And the family was never uttered again.
It was like they were whited out.
But the trees are still there
OK, just stand there behind the blind,
Watch the bait. . .Keep watching, keep watching.
That’s the Lion King! Don’t shoot.
OK, whew! Ready, big guy?
Watch the bait.
Keep watching, keep watching.
Wait! Don’t shoot.
That’s King Leonardo!
OK, whew, ready tiger?
Watch the bait. . .Keep watching.
Wait! Don’t shoot.
That’s the Friendly Lion.
(Oh, look, he’s waving his tail
To thank you.)
OK, whew, ready Bud?
Watch the bait. . .Keep watching.
Wait! Don’t shoot.
That’s Aslan of Narnia. (Man, that’s creepy
The way he looked at you.)
Hey, stay where you are, pal.
What are you doing!
Don’t leave the blind!
Those may not be “real” lions
But fantasy is powerful.
You of all people should know that,
The Big Dipper is part of Ursa Major,
The Great Bear constellation
That presides over the Arctic.
Ursa shows the way to the North Star
Which has been helping people navigate
For thousands of years.
It’s hard to conceive of what that meant
For people on the North American continent,
To have that star, Polaris, up there
To depend on for orientation.
The Arctic is named for Arktos – Bear.
Is it really so strange
That Bear and her land share the same great spirit?
We aren’t used to making whole places disappear,
Only the souls and vitality of places.
Ursus, however, will not go away,
Being made of stars.
But Arktos has nowhere to go and
She can’t go to live in the sky,
Or can she?
I wonder how our distant descendants
Will explain these times.
Will they tell of a race of small-headed, one-eyed giants
Who chased Arktos into the sky
Where she found protection behind Ursus?
The Antarctic, on the other hand, is appearing
As the ice melts,
But no bears live there.
Antarctic means the opposite of Arctic;
It is the Land of No Bear.
If only we could find our way
To learning from our mistakes
Instead of making a religion of disproving our worth
Before all the eyes of the heavens.
What are we doing?
What have we done?
Do you remember me?
Do you want to ask me something?
Can it wait?
What time is it?
Do you want a time machine?
Do you want to go forward or backward?
Could I come with you?
Would I come with you?
Can I tell you what I think?
Can I trust that you are who you seem to be?
Can I ask you more questions?
How do you like these questions?
Would you like to turn away?
Would you like to move somewhere?
Would you just like your coffee in a mug?
I’m sorry I’m taking up your time,
But I need to ask you a few more questions
Before I can let you go
But if you have had enough, just ask,
“Can I go?”
Do you need help talking?
Do you want better questions?
Do you think we can do this tomorrow?
Do you want to go back somewhere?
Do you want to change something?
My special gun cannot sleep.
My gun is black steel and cold as a stone.
My gun talks to itself in the wee hours.
It has a soul.
It is lonely.
It dreams about hitting the bull’s eye,
Bam-bam-bam-bam, rapid fire.
The smell of gunpowder
Lingers over the dusty street
After a Western shootout.
One bullet through the heart of a terrorist.
My special gun is Mama’s hero every time.
The third eye of the moon
Opens in my gun’s hypnagogic vision.
The moon is smiling down on the planet.
Smiling tenderly into a little pond.
A wave silently crossing the pond
Lifts the face of the moon.
Something sliding under the surface
Is pushing the water up.
Turbulence followed by stillness.
My gun sleeps.
Goodnight my special gun.