From the archives – poems from previous Memorial Days

From 2014

A friend from overseas asked me in a card:
“Ray, what’s it like to live in a country
constantly, always and forever at war?”
I didn’t have an answer so I rolled three dice.
Drama masks; a ladder; catching butterflies.
The masks are for deception when they speak,
all actors on a temporary stage.
The ladder: an escape; a rescue;
a fortuitous disassociation.
Catching butterflies: they will try to lure
you back. Stay on your track, ignore their call.
So what’s it like? Constant bombardment, spin,
propaganda, fake stories, subliminal appeals.
Don’t think about the guy behind the curtain.

*************************************

From 2016

I wandered through a shopping mall looking
for a telephone, a land phone with two lines:
dying technology, I would soon find out.
The mall, normally full of shoppers, was empty,
quiet, flat. Where were all the shoppers?
A few old men sat at tables in the food court,
rustling through papers with young couples,
and big, tatooed men passed through, I could tell
they were ex-soldiers by their swagger, by the glaze
of combat still in their eyes. Looking for jobs.
No jobs today, everywhere, stores are closing.
In Baghdad, the Marines used to say, “America
is not at war, the Marines are at war.
America is at the Mall.” Not no more.

************************************

From 2017

I’m selling my flat on Facebook Street.
Maybe I’ll rent it out – rents keep rising.
Too many bugs in the place, laying eggs
in every crack and crevice. I tried Raid
to smoke them out – they just laughed and scurried
about. Let’s not even discuss the rats
down in the basement, walking on tip-toes
at night, eating pages from my old books.

Yes, I’m selling – maybe the Orkin man
can clean it out, make it habitable.
Again. Maybe the next guy can rent it
out, clean the smell of smoke off the walls,
the stains of piss and ashes I found
under the carpet on the parquet floor.

**********************************

From 2018

The Deep State is dead. Long live
the Deep State. May she be forever — free.
A system of machines interlocked,
with pipes and valves and pumps
and technologists, watch-standers
who check and wipe the lubrication
when it leaks and monitor differential
flow across redundant components.

There are no kings or queens aboard
this ship of state. No pathetic henchmen
running errands for brighter tomorrows.
Meanwhile, in the home of the brave
the machinery runs without a hiccup,
though hiccups are sometimes made
to appear, an entertainment for casual
observers and pedestrian audiences.

All the vampires have been executed
by patriots exercising their 2nd amendment
rights. Vampire blood soaks the ground
on which we stand, serving as fertilizer
in place of the cow manure we once used.
Spirit cooking and trafficking of children
are outlawed in the new IGY, clowns
splintered and boogeymen deflated.

No memorial monuments will be added
on the mall, no new wars to remember
when the sons and daughters of patriots
finally say no to the world’s money lenders
who were so certain she would win –
because only the Deep State wins.
Life goes on in the villages and towns
while mirrors in the cities crack and fall.

Author: Raymond Maxwell

https://raymmaxx.wordpress.com/ Librarian, archivist, retired foreign service officer and Navy veteran.

5 thoughts on “From the archives – poems from previous Memorial Days”

  1. The feeling I get after reading these is most akin to watching someone slowly die. I don’t know why each poem gave me such an ominous feeling—actually I know why, but it paints a picture of hopelessness but strength at the same time. Thank you for sharing these!

    Like

    1. I went back and re-read them altogether. You are right about the blend of hopelessness and strength, or, perhaps, pessimism and certainty of redemption. In my August Wilson study group I talk about the difference between Greek tragedy and Judeo-Christian tragedy. Either way, we must endure!

      Liked by 1 person

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