Coming to America – An Exercise in Pessimism

Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses…

and we will feed them
we will clothe them
house them
pay them not to work
provide for their healthcare
care for their children
and tell them what to eat
and indoctrinate them in free schools
give them phones
and pay their utilities
subsidize their debt
pretend to provide for them in retirement
and promise them more
always more

all the while denying them the chance
to ever be more than
tired, poor, huddled masses
with no dreams
who have forgotten
what it is to breath free


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no stone she cast
causes a

no light she passes
cast a

no glance she cast
leaves a


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I was there
when she first spread her wings

I was there
when she learned to fly

I was there
when the winds failed

I was there
when she fell

I was there
when the chalk line was drawn

I was there
when they ignored the extra extremities

I was there
when reporters drew the wrong conclusions

I was there
when the feathers disappeared

I was there
when the tears began to fall

I was there
when shadows grew unchecked

I was there


for the image prompt from Margo Roby


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she flutters through the night
like a moth

easing between currents
content with the dark quiet

timid when shadows flee
knowing from experience

the light can sting


for the Mag


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There is a tattoo of a cross across her left temple,
another of a dove, high on her right thigh,
which you never see when she is on this stage.

She smokes before each song — usually some
off-brand, or whatever she finds
laying around — staring at the floor
when she takes a drag,
always looking up when she exhales,

closing her eyes when she is ready to sing.
The smoke collects above her head —
it is a small place, poor ventilation — churning
in the single stage light, changing patterns
each time she tilts her head back
to breathe out the chorus.

She wears gray, with a white scarf.
I get caught up in watching
the movements of the smoke,
and find it hard to find her
when I look back down to the stage,
sometimes only seeing an empty
stool and a guitar suspended in air.

I always feel like she is singing to someone,
a specific someone, but she never looks
at the crowd, always opening with
Me and Bobby McGee,
closes with Hallelujah.

She has a pleasant voice — sings with passion —
and a pretty face,
but I have always been drawn to the
tattoo of cross across her left temple.


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It is a day of celebration.
Will you join in, and, if so,
what will you celebrate?
Will it be a tree with gifts underneath?
Perhaps a day off without pay
or an extended weekend, and excuse to eat, drink and be merry?

Will you stick to old family traditions: because they mean something,
or because it is what you have always done?
Will there be meaning to the prayer before the meal,
or is it just something Grandma expects?

Did you spend the weeks leading up to today
dismissing the stories as legends in an old book?
Do you refuse to acknowledge there are things real
which cannot be proven, but must be taken on faith?
Can you in good conscience continue to ignore history,
to ignore that 2000 years ago something changed?
A movement began, spreading so rapidly, so powerfully,
mere unfounded stories could not be responsible…

Do you look down your nose at people who but in to such things,
think them intellectually inferior for having unfailing faith,
all the while naming the judgmental and hypocrite?
Is it the specifics that bother you? Are you hung up on a date,
or the meaning behind a tree or a tradition?
Then you are missing the point.

It is not a celebration of an arbitrary date, or a tree, or presents
exchanged among family and friends.
It is not about songs or lights, or, really, even reading from a book.
It is not even only about one perfect man, although I am sure
the idea of that messes you up more than just a bit.
It was never about perfection of a system, or a perfect people.

It is about beginnings and second chances. It is about hope
and redemption.
It is about perfect love.
Without that, or at least the hope for it, the desire for it,
your intellectualism is meaningless.

With it, so is your condescension.

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Flurries on a Clear Night

We opened the ceiling, let in the snow,
assuming nature is beautiful
whether within walls or without
forgetting for a moment
about inconvenient
truths; cold, wind and damp.
We huddled close
and shivered


for Margo’s image prompt


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