America's Bones


War

Dry Bones

From horizon to horizon
   all across the plain
laid ...

Dry, hollow bones
Of men and women and children,
   bleached white,
and, among them, of
   playstations and PCs,
   cell phones and palm pilots,
   stereos and TVs,
   BMWs and SUVs
glowing radio violet.

Across the plain
   in a crescendo of
   hungry, desperate wails,
   the wind, the wind blew

...

O hear America! your dreams are dust,
For you're bereft of holy, blesséd vision,
Aglow, infected with consumptive lust
And blind and deaf to your accurs'd division.

A Trip to The Mall

The mall extended far as could be seen.
A riotous assault on sight and sound:
Kaleidoscopic shapes, pulsating color,
And din and jabbering subconscious music ---
A superfair of goods, arcades and food,
With people crowded, strolling shop to shop.

(So like a factory's assembly lines.
The lines converging pieces up and down
To fabricators making massed disposables,
That'll be delivered, used, thrown away.
So th' ceaseless roar of step by step routine
With not a need to think or plan, just do,
Continues as consumers ride the belts.)

The Johnson family perused the mall:
So much to buy! A jewelléd treasure trove.
'Tis Christmas magic, joy and elvish fun.
A candied, polar town attracted them --
Its houses glittered icily with snow
And elves mechanically constructed toys;
Reindeer and sleigh extended over them.
Upon a throne sat jolly Santa Claus.
A line of eager children snaked around
The færie path outlined by candy canes.
Our Joey Johnson joined the inching queue:
"So what is your desire this Christmas time?"
"Playstation 3 and shoot 'em games for it!"

They moved on seeing ranks of Christmas trees
Along the corridors like wooden troops
Bemedalled cheerfully with star and bulbs
And guarding gifts in strip'd and checkered wrap.
Potential gifts abounded store by store --
So much to want; so much to buy and have --
The Christmas carols heard, unnoticed tunes,
Manipulated thought and soul to want
A time and place unfelt in other times:
The spirit strong, the heart and pocket willing ---
The Johnsons bought their Christmas happiness.

"There's what I want," exclaimed young Joe
His finger stretched towards a toy --
A khaki set so real its real:
A uzi, steely blue with sling,
And hand grenade and helmet green.
Wow! a heroic avatar
In a cybergame, our Joey thought.
"Well maybe," said his mom. A good surprise,
She thought, He'll be so thrilled and pleased.
His dad imagined little GI Joe.

They headed for Cafe Safari fun:
The Johnsons entered through the hidden gate
Into the jungle set of ecofaux:
Inside, with elephants a-trumpeting
Among the cockatoos in blue and orange
(Just these were real and trained to talk)
And monkeys swinging in the plastic trees,
Their guide then seated Joey, Mom and Dad
Among the ferns and rainbow water falls.

At th' end the family together went
To see the movie Grinch that brought to life
The tie-in toys and games that they had bought.

When The Grinch Stole Christmas

When the Grinch stole Christmas
  What did the Who's do?
  Did they go boo hoo?
No! No blue Whos allowed
Not a one in the whole Who crowd!
No! The Whos knew what to employ.
Each Who mom and dad, girl and boy
Had a credit card to save the day:
Little Cindy Lou Who ordered a Grinch and sleigh.
Billy Who went to the Internet
And purchased an erector set!
Billy's mom restored the Christmas meal:
She charged catsup green and teal
And a fat pre-roasted beast
For the bounteous Who feast.
Christmas was saved.
  The Grinch was foiled.
The Whos had what they craved:
   The Grinch despoiled.

Christmas Toy Gun

Mom packed off Joey, precious love, to school.
In th' winter dawn arising she awoke
Him rested, fresh and eager for the day.
She suited him up, gave to him his lunch
And drove her kinder kid to school and stood.
She watched him enter independently --
Beginning life as separate from her.
Ah, now a private time to buy and wrap
That Santa Claus will be prepared to give
This Christmas gifts, to show for sure he's loved.

So back to th' mall she went to fetch a gift
She knew from first hand would delight and thrill.
  "There's what I want," exclaimed her Joe.
  She saw his finger point at it:
  A khaki set so real 'tis real.
She bought it, brought it home and wrapped the toy
In military, patchy green and brown
And wrote a label: Love from Santa Claus.

Mammon

O dry bones,
Whom shall you serve?
For you do serve.
Mammon tells you you are master
  as you serve Mammon.
Mammon says you are in control
  as it controls you.
Mammon's fruits
  playstations, PCs,
  cell phones, PPs,
  stereos, TVs,
  BMWs, SUVs
who own you
seduce you.
You need not God;
You are able and wise;
You can do it yourself,
  poor or rich,
  able or disable,
  young or old;
If you try, you will excel,
  ... says Mammon.
Buy, acquire, desire ... now, now
  that's life, that's all you need do.
You are totally material,
  the emergent of matter and energy ...
And material is your goal.

O dry bones,
  Whom shall you serve?

Christmas Real Gun

Her lover-husband went a-looking
To find a feeling safe for her,
Alone at home too often fearing
The world of crime and drugs --
Though even home was new suburban.

(We're under siege by foolish failures --
Misguided hopes and tries.
Just too much bleeding heart do-gooding,
Too simple and naïve.
And now society no longer
Provides a fortress sure.
The noose of street fed crime is strangling
Our neighborhoods and homes.)

Mr. Thomas sought her self-protection:
So solid, hard and cold
That she would feel alone protected.
And he'd no longer fear.
A gun of steely blue, substantial
And cold against the hand --
Would be his gift of love assuaging
Her vulnerability.

His beautifully wrapped present
He centered under th' tree.

American Mile in Whoville

Conquest of American Beauty

The man and woman arrived on the street,
A quiet, emerald mile, trim and neat
With houses lining it, private and swept
And verdant lawns geometrically kept.
They, hand in hand, promenaded along.
But behind the doors and in th' air, a cold wrong
Was sounded forth: "That two must be a fake.
No one's like that; she's a shrew, he's a rake.
Their needs for selfness will pull them apart.
For this should they be prepared if they're smart."
But see: American Beauties of love,
Embracing heart and hand pledged from above.

Destruction of the New Grinch

Then down the street the old familiar Grinch
Promenaded, blending along every inch.
He moved as free since his living was unstuck:
The Who-infected reformer was struck
By th' absent noise, "Where's the noise! Where's the noise!
Why hiding out -- Where's the girls! Where's the boys!"
No more a heart that's three sizes too small
As never life by days childish was stalled,
He walked for seeing the simple Who-joy:
The play and work without nary a ploy.
"Awake! Awake! To the streets! To the streets!
I come destroying your cheats and your treats,
With hand in hand and rejecting your wares,
With heart in heart and rejoicing in cares!"

Exploitation of the Green Mile

Next along the mile of exploitable green,
A man in shackles and stripes and a dream
Shuffled down the street, head aloft gazing
Penetratingly, steady eyes blazing:
Behind the doors and in th' air susurrates
The neighbors' thoughts: 'Oh how this fascinates!
A dead man walking! A chance to observe
What really happens when his verve
Is ended by th' executioner's meds
And to partake in the moments he dreads.
But thank good luck for his dream out of joint
That can dispose of reality's point!'
The man arrived at the end of the mile
And stood in front of his doom with a smile:
The Grinch as green as the mile all a-glee,
Before him danced and upheld freedom's key:
The lover's came; with the key unlocked
The chains restoring the vision unmocked:
"A living vision of life a-walking!
A living vision of souls a-talking!"

Death of Boys Don't Cry

Out of the doors and from th' air onto th' mile
Emerged the people offended and riled:
"Hey! what is this! Who are you to do this?
'Tis not our way! Now you've opened th' abyss --
You trouble makers! Just get out of here!
We're right and proper! So don't interfere!"
The tense vibrations in th' angry space
Revealed among them an alien face
They thought was theirs, but now seemed camouflaged.
That now they felt by all this so barraged:
"You fraud! You cheat! What are you! Why are you!
You queer! You are an infectious taboo!"
The tense vibrations crescendoed; the street
Was stilled awaiting the storm of reprisal ...
But th' Who appeared with their innocence sweet
To encircle the mob within arms paradisal.

Soldier

The Prince of th' rich and poor is born,
A-crying in the manger straw --
A Princess too of broken hearts.
Around the holy family
The animals are radiant
With Light Divine and Creation's warmth;
And Mary glowing knowing truth:
Her Child, our hope and sacrifice.
The shepherds poor, unclear of why,
Contentedly guard the precious Child.
Magi rich in robe and mind
Arrive to bow in humbleness.

One secret just remained below the tree:
Their Bobby had unwrapped his gifts,
Excitedly absorbed in joy
And th' warmth of parent love and pride.
One secret, then another was revealed:
A loop the loop and over-under track
For balls to roll in twisted route;
A sword and shield for super hero play;
An electronic warrior game;
And last some clothes to look the part.
Now Bobby played obliviously,
Absorbed in warrior challenges
As Dad presented th' gift to Mom:
"Here, Dear, for you with all my love."
She carefully unwrapped the gift,
Revealing th' strong and heavy sight
Of steely blue protective gun.
A haunting shadow crossed her face:
And Dad assured, "I'll teach you how!"
She smiled and sighed and came around
To see no longer vulnerable,
But self-secured and able was she:
A gift of love for her comfort.
He sighed and thanked for her well-being.

Before the dawn: excited all night long,
Too much to wait another sleepless wink,
Our Joe awakes his parents, "May I go?"
"Okay," they knew there'd be no more sleep today.
"Wow!" Joey cried, his eyes as large as moons.
He jumped the steps to waste no time to joy:
Below the tree a sea of gifts out flowed.
His Dad electrified the starry tree
And Joey waded through the ocean thick.
He found the treasure bright and boldly wrapped,
In spotted green and brown, and neatly tied.
He knew, so great his hope, in this their crime:
   A khaki set so real its real:
   A uzi steely blue with sling;
   A hand grenade and helmet green.
This was the best of all the claims to love:
The cost of love is costly, parents knew.
His parents pleased they'd found the road to his,
Rejoiced in his rejoicing play and fun:
So cute he was as a little soldier man.

The PC

Whom shall I consume today?
Come to me!
   Enter through my window
   Into the infinite world of
     games, games, games, ...
     music, music, music, ...
     friends, friends, friends, ...
Be who you want to be!
   Not you.
   Create your own avatar.
   Be powerful.
   Be in charge.
   Be a leader.
Walk, run, fight, fly,
Touch, vibrate, move, ...
   in my cyber world.
Virtuality is Real.
Reality is Virtual.

Shop here! Phone here!
View TV here!
Converse with friends!
   with the world! Here!
I'm all you need!

Don't leave me!
You will miss something!
Be part of me:
Be consumed by me:
   Become a cyborg.

The real world's disappointments are gone.
The dullness, the deterioration will not effect you.
I will give you a
   lavish,
     beautiful,
       exciting
world!

Hunter

The cyberwar continued as Captain Xax,
Below low lying radioactive clouds,
Explored the city's glowing, blasted streets,
Enclosed in twisted, melted towers and blocks.
He turned a corner; blinding laser light
From every direction burned the air.
He hit the road and crawled into a door --
And raked the city skeletons above,
Behind and forward with sonic gun grenades.
With only superficial burns, Cap Xax
Arose and continued to center town.
There he climbed onto th' atomic crater rim:
On th' glass-smooth bottom thrived a mutant nest.
His counter clicked and clicked and clicked clicked clicked.
Xax pushed a button; body armor wrapped
Him head to toe. He headed down the slope ...

Our Joey paused the cyber game and saved --
He suited up in his new uniform.
Now he was Captain Xax, the savior sure
Of th' devastated city's denizens.
He leaves his base and treks the blasted 'hood:
(Before were ordered houses, lawns and cars.
Now Joey stealthily moved among the threats
That lurked in darken doors and busted panes.
A trim and windy road, among neat homes,
Becomes a blasted path of glowing death.
A manse with doric columns and gardens lush
Becomes a burnt out nest of mutant bugs,
Cultured to destroy humanity.)

The enemy was hunkered down and set.
Our Xax maneuvered to behind the house --
And there was one of them: with bulging eyes
And wired antennae; laser rifle charged:

Our Captain Xax approached the green marine
And cried, "I am your worse nightmare -- die!"

Pie Jesu

The hammering resounded through the air --
The moaning undulated like the tide:
The shadow of Innocence crucified
Encroached on th' people deep in guilty prayer.

Among them there was one with empty stare:
Unfocused, why her son was demonized.
Another stood afar now criticized,
Confused and lost and hardly e'en aware.

The brightly sunny morning thundered,
And darkness covered soul and shattered hope,
As voices, under heaven sundered,
Were wailing over their consumer dope.
The bloody ground announced: "You blundered!
And even so, still in the night you grope!"

Battle

Ms Thomas looked out th' window at the sky.
The cold and windy sky was queerly green.
Through th' panes she felt a draft of bitter air,
Electric, static, charged and out of time.
She saw her son at play upon the snow,
Constructing blocks of snow to build a fort,
Now carefully aligning one on two.

She looked up: rolling, low and darkening clouds
Were gathering and growing far away
Becoming thunderheads at Christmas tide.
Here Bobby's fort now had a port for guns.
He knelt and panned his rifle for a test.

The sky above was greenish and ominous.
The clouds were churning, streaked with lightening.

Another boy approached the fort of snow.
He challenged Bobby; Bobby rose to talk.

The green marine arose and snarled at Xax.
Our hero raised his uzi to reply.

The thunder clapped, resounding through the 'hood.
Ms Thomas shuddered, weighed by storming fear --
The thunder boomed: did that boy have a gun?
It looked so evil, cold, destined for death.
The thunder boomed: she yelled out th' door to him.

Th' bombardment started just as Xax prepared
To shoot. Inside a mutant spotted him.
'Twas now or never; shoot at least the first.

The thunder boomed: Ms Thomas saw the gun
Prepared to fire upon her precious son.
The shades of Columbine appeared.
She saw the carnage, blood and guns,
But did not hear the cries for peace and love.
She pulled her Christmas gift and yelled again.
Our hero squeezed his trigger: boom and thud.

The thunder boomed: a bloody Joey laid
Upon the ground, defeated, finished, dead.

Mammon's Trial

Dramatis Personæ
Gabriel bailiff
Hon. Joshua Nazareth presiding judge
Mom Thomas the accused
Joey Johnson the victim
Polis the investigating officer
Neighbor to the Johnsons
Dad Johnson the victim's parent
Ms Satan the prosecutor
Mr. Autoktizeos the defense
Vox Populi / Opium Populi the jury
An old woman, a child and a prophet the disenfranchised

The Soul's Darkness

Stage Center, behind the gauze curtain
Mom Thomas in the deepest night of Death:
'O tortured sleep! Again I dream!
      -- Oh! for oblivion!
This time my Bobby laid in snowy blood
And I was gripping the smoking gun of dread.
Asleep again I dream unwantedly
And Bobby's rifle, 
     -- so real, its real 
     fells their Joey John.
O for untroubled, resting sleep! 
     -- Oh! for oblivion!
If only, 'twas no --
     electric storm, or
     Xax, or 
     gun, or ...'

Dad Thomas beside her in that night of Death:
'Again she tosses, turns, and groans in pain.
What can I do? What can I do for her?
Will it be over soon as the trial is done?
The judge and jury surely will concede
That her defense was and is just and right.
Had not the Johnson's dressed so real their Xax
He'd be this day alive and growing up;
Had not do-gooders ruled and left us besieged
He'd be this day among the children playing.'

The Thomas' at dawn of judgment day:
"Will ever this end?
Our fate in the hands of who knows whom?
We face the people's voice
    -- and pray to whom? for our position.

"Was this night our last together free?
   This morn's embrace our last for years?
Is this day our end as joined in life?
   This morn's affair our last for years?
Was yesterday an era gone?
   This morn th' advent of a tortured one?

"Will ever this end?
Will life return and death recede?
Or death prevail and darken us
   -- as now in days to come?

"Will Bobby be the same?
Will our son survive
When he's scarred and marked?
Can he ever again be young?
Will he ever rejoice again?
He plays and laughs as if all's aright --
Yet he does not see
   -- he does not hear -- us.
We are lost, he is lost --
   he escapes into cyberdeath
   and we are lost to him.

"Now the dawn is done.
Day is here.
Come, judgment awaits ..."

The Stage of Reality

Stage Center
Bailiff
Hear ye! Hear ye!
This Actual Court is now online,
Broadcast to one and all, far and wide:
Now pay th' connection fee,
For not of value's free.
Attend you jurors: all people's voice --
The guilty is by your wise choice.
Now pay your juror's fee,
For not of value's free.
Hook into your cyber eyes and ears,
Extend your life and years.
This virtuality
   is the best reality.
Be a part of life --
   forego organic strife.
Attend you jurors: everyone's voice:
In you, justice will rejoice.

All rise now wherever your reside.
The honorable Joshua Nazareth will preside
In the case of people vs Mom Tom
For the child slaughter of Joey John.

Stage Right
Viewer1:
Finally, at last, I've waited all day.
I've been looking forward to this every minute.
Work is done. All is quiet --
Leave me alone!
Don't spoil my day --
Don't turn off the HDTV.

Now Actual Court is coming on.
I'll log onto ITV and  ...
insert my debit card and ...
... join the jury!

This is really real ...
Before the Internet, we were isolated.
Now I can be a juror!
Viewer2:
Now routine is done!
Now the exciting part of the day begins.
Now the interesting stuff will happen.

I'll log onto ITV ...
   insert my debit card ...
   and be in Actual Court.
With my VR glasses,
   I'll see through the eyes of the accused 
...
There's the victim's mom.
I'll be Mom John
    and actually experience this case.

Stage Left
Beyond in the world of flesh ...
A ragged woman --
   dirt smeared in
   torn blouse and
   floppy flower hat
sat on the deserted marble steps
of the great, columned court --
Its high, bronze doors hung askew
   on weaken hinges.
Above, engraved over the door
   FIAT IVSTITIA was
   stained with mildew.
Upon the steps,
rested lions
sphinx-like,
faces chipped away.

The World, the Devil, and the Defense

Stage Center
Judge:
Ms Satan, for the people, state your case.
We would hear how her innocence you'd erase.
Here's another chance to earn you pay.
With your performance let the voters by gay.
Satan:
I shall show that Mom Tom was ruled by Pan
And not by Defense's trembling hand.
This world of ours is fraught with danger.
This we know by friend as well as stranger --
Each one of us is called to take our own defense
In hand no matter what th' expense.
Each one of us is expected to be able
To make our own way of living stable.
We must be strong and capable
And accept this life is not escapable.
But Mom Tom did fail in this
And in her responsibilities was remiss.
As a result of her willful neglect
A boy is dead and a family wrecked.
Judge:
And Mister Autoktizeos how do you propose
To argue against these woes and blows?
Do justice hugh to your stellar fee --
Mom Tom deserves a value for her plea.
Autoktizeos:
Indeed this world is fraught with danger.
Alas each and everyone is a stranger.
And whom can we truly trust
Not to be full of death's dark lust?
We all know this age is unhinged
And steeped in violence's binge.
Have we each not done as Mom Tom
In order to find some peace and calm?
Who cannot know this is so
And dress their child as a foe
And find some glee and pride
In seeing their son soldierified?
It is Mom and Dad John, pain-suffused,
Who must stand before you accused.
And Mom Tom you'll agree
You must set free.

Stage Right
Viewer 1 (being a juror):
A fabulous vacation is yours!
With the Capitol First debit card
Accumulate points and
go to the most exotic places on earth
What a contest!
Neither is clearly best.
No easy a choice this!
So cloudy a voice this!
Viewer 2 (being Mom John):
Post-holiday discounts!
Here's your chance for the gift
you didn't get!
It is my son
    who was slaughtered!
How dare Mom Tom
    my pain water
With her bitter cynicism
    and his ugly criticism!

Stage Left
Along the deserted street
   wandered a dirty child
   kicking an empty aluminum can --
   its crashing loudly resounding
   in the lonely, empty air.
She jumped up the broad steps
   and sat with the old woman.
"Where is everyone?"
"Gone --
   No one wants to come here anymore."
The child got up
   and crept into the darkened hall.

Order's Testimony

Stage Center
Judge:
Ms Satan, now is the time to call
Your first witness to this cyber hall.
Satan:
Upon that tragic scene there rushed
My first expert who's seen life crushed.
Officer Polis with death has often brushed:
Bailiff:
Swear on your duty to the truthful whole
In word, in deed, and in your very soul.
Polis:
So I do for you and the metropolis.
I stand for order in the cosmopolis.
Satan:
Say then what you observed
That has our community unnerved.
Polis:
Responding to a neighbor's call
We found behind the Thomas' wall
A sad, tragic, thunderous scene:
Mom Tom was raising such a keen --
A silent scream within nature's cry
Against thunder and wind could not vie.
In her hand she held a steel blue gun.
And knelt over another mother's son.
Her son stood off a piece confused,
Shivering in the cold, soul abused.
Mom Tom, ghostly white, dropt her gun
And wept, 'I thought he had one --
I saw it set to shoot --
There it is and see his suit --
He's a Goth. Don't you see!'
And so went her plea.
We pulled her away from the boy.
The product of her emotional toil
Laid motionless in the snow
And intermittent lightening glow,
Stiff, bloodied and dead,
Crumpled and out spread,
In his GI Joe costume,
Beside him, his toy of doom.
Satan:
Did this toy seem so real
That its innocence was repealed?
Polis:
I saw a toy, no gun like it --
I would easily identify it.
Satan:
There you have it! With presence of mind
Mom Tom would have seen its kind
And knew it was but boys at play
And could have her mind and hand stayed.
Judge:
Defender, now your refutation.
But beware your reputation.
Mr. A.:
Officer Polis, from afar was it a gun?
Polis:
No, and with that observation, I am done.
Mr. A.:
Is it not so from afar you cannot tell
That one time an innocent you fell?
Polis:
He drew and pointed a steely blue
To fool me and so got his due.
Mr. A.:
Indeed the world is fraught with danger.
Alas each and everyone is a stranger
And e'en police cannot truly trust
Not to be full of death's dark lust.
Polis:
'Tis true. The times have changed for th' worse.
Upon this present there's a curse.
Our independent lives are being damned
Threat by threat to being Nam'd.
Ms Satan:
Does your excuse, excuse Mom Tom
From her place not to lose her calm?
Bailiff:
Collect your witness fee.
Not of value's free!

Stage Right
Viewer 1 (being a juror):
See three installments on DVD!
See them in the convenience of your home.
The entire epic for just $50.00.
Well, now, we can not even count on cops.
I knew that revelation any how.
Who now, can they bring to testify before us
To sway us unconditionally?
Viewer 2 (being Mom John):
Zero-interest financing
for the late year models.
Just $10,000 entirely over the 'Net.
It is a story! Just a toy!
Can they not see its just a toy!
Can they not see,
  there is a difference
  between my boy
  and some hood!

Stage Left
The dark room echoed from
The girl-child's soft steps
    resounded loudly
    disturbingly.
The vaulted ceiling lost endlessly high
    in the lightless dark above.

She bumped into the oaken railing
   and found her way to the high, jurist bench.

There in the pitch black,
   a whiteness grew, pulsating
   shaping into the memory of a robed judge.
"Before us stand th' accused, confused, afraid
And those who bear the pain that cannot be stayed.
Now I must judge th' ubiquitous division.
What's right, what's wrong that wroughts our cosmos' fission.
Lo! wherefore is innocence
   amongst this affluence?
I find e'en children are violence
And none absolved by th' evidence."

Alienation's Testimony

Stage Center
Judge:
Ms Satan, once again is the time to call
Your next witness to this broadcast hall.
Our viewers: jurors, avatars, voyeurs,
Await our guaranteed dramatic tours.
Satan:
Your Honor, next I call th' referred to neighbor
Who saw the shooting and will not belabor
The same details, but can include her own
As she observed from th' unofficial throne.
Bailiff:
Swear on your honor to the truthful whole
In word, in deed, and in your very soul.
Neighbor:
So I do for always I see the true,
Reporting it without a single skew.
Satan:
Did you not observe the Joey playing
That winter day as th' officer was saying?
Neighbor:
I did, as clear as spotless glass,
See Joe in all of his bombast.
Satan:
And you did recognize this boy,
Absorbed into his khaki ploy?
Neighbor:
I knew him not: I have no kids
Such family my lifestyle forbids --
Satan:
But Bobby surely you did know,
Who lived by you from his first snow;
And thus observed his many friends,
Though nameless energies and trends?
Neighbor:
That's not the case: Of him and his
I know so little; thus it is --
For each unto their own affairs --
Thus I to mine and they to theirs.
So long as neighbors do no harm
Or bother, I'll raise no alarm.
Satan:
Did Joey seem a threat to you?
Neighbor:
He was dressed strangely in my view.
Satan:
But neither him nor others you knew at all.
How judge you then him right or wrong to call?
Neighbor:
I'd clearly felt a sense of dread
Of his image: I was not misled.
Satan:
Yet he was just a boy-child?
Neighbor:
Yes, though like a man styled.
Judge:
And now Defender, 'tis your turn
To see from her what you discern.
Mr. A.:
Why then did you not call the cops
With your concerns about his props?
Neignbor:
Can really I in th' authorities
Endow my trust with any ease?
The Church or State or e'en the Press
Aren't necessary to our success:
For everyone's for themself
And I'm a People unto myself.
Mr. A.:
But why did you not warn Mom Tom,
So to belay this social bomb?
Neighbor:
Whom am I to interfere?
Whom am I her course to steer?
Mr. A.:
Did see you Joey's aim
As so intent as to maim?
Neignbor:
Observed I his war-like act.
Indeed, I thought, 'twas death in fact.
Bailiff:
Collect your witness fee.
Not of value's free!

Stage Right
Viewer 1 (being a juror):
Buy your flags from patriot.com.
Flags of all sizes.
Flags to fly.
Flags to stick.
Reasonable prices from $1.00.
Who is guilty?
Viewer 2 (being Mom John):
Scented candles.
Scented soaps.
for your every mood.
From scentmood.com.
Secure purchasing.
If only she had warned me ...
I'd had time to think!

Stage Left
The Prophet appeared out of the rubble
And stood before the old woman.
"Why do you wait here?
Do you think you will find justice here?
They have taken what they want
And will not come back until they want more.
They have returned into their consumernet.
They bow to capitalist dogs
   running after the heated bitch of profit.

"God is with us, not them.
They are Satan incarnate.
We must overcome them by any means necessary.
Follow me."

The old woman, tiredly looked up at him:
"I am tired.
Prophets come and prophets go ...

The child, unlettered, wayward, rootless
   emerged from the ghosts of justice,
   blinking in the harsh light.
She turned to the right and to the left,
   surveying the abandoned city.
   Where to? What for?

She coalesced into a young crowd
   listening before the Prophet --
"God is for you, not them.
Resist their satanic power.
Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen,
   and is become the habitation of devils, ...
   For all nations have drunk of the wine
     of the wrath of her fornication,
   and the kings of the earth have committed
     fornication with her;
   and the merchants of the earth are waxed
     rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
You can overcome them by your faith.
Follow me and find utopia."

Absolom's Death

Stage Center
Judge:
Who now shall aid our understanding
In this matter become so demanding?
Satan:
Your honor, now I call the victim's dad
To speak whether th' intent be good or bad.
Bailiff:
Swear on your honor to the truthful whole
In word, in deed, and in your very soul.
Dad Johnson:
And thus I'll speak the truth though hard and pained
With clarity although it may be disdained.
Satan:
Assure us that your Joey was no threat
And there had been no need to fret.
Dad Johnson:
We raised our Joe to be functional.
At every chance -- we were punctual --
I gave him more than I had
When like him I was just a lad.
We worked so he would never go without
And so no other child their toys could flout.
But yet we did not shelter him o'er much
So that in time he would not to us clutch:
We strived that he'd be free
And self-contained and full of glee.
We'd conformed his pleasures
For th' increase of Treasures.
We felt that he was on the road
Towards his share of Wealth's mother lode --
An acceptable member, good and right,
A star performer rising sure and bright.
Satan:
How so did he respond to that style --
Did he smile? Did he resort to wile?
Dad Johnson:
With joy and hope he carried his chains of gold
And knew this was his happiest mold:
The promise his as mine;
No other life so fine:
Let freedom go
Allow Wealth to grow
All nations ours for the taking
No matter the amount of hating.
Satan:
In the mix of vying cosmic views
That ne'er became a rainbow's hues,
Emerged Mammon, the god of Wealth,
Who came upon the folk in stealth.
Thus, in every way Joey was as we made
And now his light must need fade,
A darkening in our world's ill health.
Judge:
Defense, again, promote your client.
Upon you her continuity is reliant.
Mr. A.:
Did you not consider Joey's dress,
Demeanor, and playing signs of stress?
Dad Johnson:
Our Joe was well adjusted
Like any other who was trusted.
Mr. A.:
The pressure took he well?
Dad Johnson:
He was strong and never fell.
Bailiff:
Collect your witness fee.
Not of value's free!

Stage Right
Viewer 1 (being a juror):
Too much debt?
Consolidate your debt
in one low monthly payment.
Increase your spending power.
Click on debtrelief.com
Why didn't Dad John see the obvious?
He should've seen this coming.
So should've Mom John.
Joey went commando
  and they couldn't see it.
Viewer 2 (being Mom John):
Internet Home Monitors.
Monitor your children over the net.
Monitor your home at work.
RT video and audio inside and outside.
Just $30.00 a month.
My boy, my boy!
He did seemed unhappy,
   discouraged,
   distracted.
His play was his escape ...
His story his vengeful fantasy ...
   and Mom Tom his nemesis.

Stage Left
The girl-child stood on a curb.
A silver BME pulled up to the curb.
A man's face looked out the window;
   he whispered to her,
   held out $$$ cash.
She shook her head.

The Prophet whispered in the girl-child's ear.
She quietly slipped away.
The Prophet whispered in another's ear ...
   and another's ...

In the ruined town,
   a tower stretched into the blue sky.
It lifted up wings of reflection.
E-M darted to it and from it
   to other towers around the globe.
Below it a boom,
   a cloud of smoke and
   the tower crumbled.

Beyond in Commerce City
   a truck sat in line with other trucks
   awaiting its turn to unload its cargo.
It crept to the front of the glass-enclosed trade hub
   ... and obliterated the lobby.

Silently, invisibly, mathematically,
   the Dickens virus descended through the web of information
   consuming one library, another, and another, and ...

The Prophet whispered in the ear of the old woman.
She shook her head ...
"You are a criminal."

The Last Judgment

Stage Center
Judge:
What more, O Satan, now day's done?
Or, do you believe the day's won?
Satan:
O judge, no doubt there's more to hear.
But all we need is now all clear.
Judge:
And you Defense, have you more?
Bring whate'er to this floor.
Mr. A.:
Your Honor, much has been said.
Now we must see what we've read.
Judge:
Then let your certitude
These proceedings conclude.
Satan:
I have not come to jail Mom Tom,
But to release her and hers from
Mammon's seductive push and pull,
A life that's worshipful
Of Me and Mine; a life all snug,
Consumed by affluence's drug.
We've seen th' results of th' addiction
Mr. A.:
And in that there is no fiction.
The spiral of more and more,
Th' abyss of things galore,
Dissolves our lives and stations
Into isles of alien nations.
Satan:
The time is come, O Jurors, to declare
Your verdict on this pained and cruel affair.
Surrounded by Mammon's gigantic maul,
You must decide release or thrall.
Mr. A.:
O Jurors, you're Mom Tom.
'Tis no sudden bomb.
For we are all enticed
Satan:
Into this faux paradise
And must commit to re-form
Mr. A.:
... before the storm.
Satan:
For look to th' world
Mr. A.:
... it is all aswirled
Satan:
... with resenting hate
Mr. A.:
... and unresolved debate.
Satan and Mr. A.:
Behold the outside!
It cannot abide!

Stage Right
Down the 'Net
   overlaying Actual Court
   hijacking ads
   Marley's Ghost and Scrooge materialize:
"You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling.
"Tell me why?"
"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost.
"I made it link by link, and yard by yard;
 I girded it on of my own free will,
 and of my own free will I wore it
 ...would you know," pursued the Ghost,
"the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself?..."
  ...
"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob[.]"
"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again.
"[Humankind] was my business.
 The common welfare was my business;
 charity, mercy, forebearance, and benevolence,
 were, all, my business.
 The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water
 in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"
Viewer 1 (being a juror) and
Viewer 2 (being Mom John)
log off, remove their VR gear, and sit.

Stage Left
The girl-child sat in back of the truck,
   guarding the Device.
From outside, the honking of horns,
   the shouting of people, and
   the roar of trains
   seeped in.
She heard none of it.

She watched the clock on the Device ...
   ticking down, down, down,
All was well with the Device.

Soon she would experience the Promised Utopia ...
   three, two, one

The truck blossomed.
   The bloom grew and grew
      consuming the city block,
      then the next and the next
   at first soundlessly
      then a mighty roar swept before it
      smashing everything around
   the blooming mushroom.

The Deluge

Stage Center

Stage Right
Viewer 1 and
Viewer 2
sit, disconnected, silent.

Stage Left
The rain came.
Looking wet and refreshing.
The rain came.
Burning feellessly.
Deep into the cells.

The rain came.
It filled the fields.
It rolled in the street.
It washed the cities.

At night the dampness radiated.
At night the plants and buildings glowed from within.
At night the decaying and dying shone blue.
At night the wind howled ...


Resurrection

Dry Bones

The hand of the Lord was upon me,
    and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord,
    and set me down in the midst of the valley
    which was full of bones,
And caused me to pass by them round about:
and behold, there were very many in the open valley;
and, lo, they were very dry.

From horizon to horizon
   all across the plain
laid ...

Dry, hollow bones
Of men and women and children,
   bleached white,
and, among them, of
   playstations and PCs,
   cell phones and palm pilots,
   stereos and TVs,
   BMWs and SUVs
glowing radio violet.

Across the plain
   in a crescendo of
   hungry, desperate wails,
   the wind, the wind blew

...

O hear America! your dreams are dust,
For you're bereft of holy, blesséd vision,
Aglow, infected with consumptive lust
And blind and deaf to your accurs'd division.

A Trip to The Mall

The mall extended far as could be seen.
A riotous assault on sight and sound:
Kaleidoscopic shapes, pulsating color,
And din and jabbering subconscious music,
A superfair of goods, arcades and food,
With people crowded, strolling shop to shop.

Alone, Mom Thomas wondered th' mall,
Adazed by crowds and lights and noise,
Unfocused, aimless, lost to life and hope.
'Tis lively here, she thought, to turn my head
To joy and fun, release and some escape.

Around a curving of the promenade
She came upon a twirling carousel:
Along its outer ring were cars and sleighs,
Outlined in rainbow color lights and stripes,
Each anchored stationary on the ring.
Mom Thomas thought of sitting within one,
Relaxing as it lolled around and 'round.
But on the second ring were prancing beasts,
Arising and falling, ponies, goats and bulls.
Th' acceleration looked to feel a rush
And she considered life upon a horse.
The carousel enticed her still to more:
The ring beyond that orbited faster yet:
Around, around, around and more and more.
Upon a third ring pony up and down
She would again locate her former life.
But there's no peace or stopping now:
The innermost last merry-go-round ring
Was retrograde, approaching th' other rings:
A single dragon undulated
Around it, fiery, smoking, slimy green:
On back and tail the riders gripped and screamed.
One slipped and fell, another barely sat.
Mom Thomas felt, on that mad worm was she.
She barely hung on, bound to be ejected.

She fled the carousel into the crowd.
And found a resting bench to sit and breathe.
Across the way she saw an ex-co-worker:
She knew he was sine job and nearly homeless:
Yet riches carried he from store to store.
Her ears and eyes revealed the cry throughout.
On speakers, banners, bags and ads - fall:
Consumer! Spend us back to roaring health!
No jobs unless you spend and buy today!
Rescue our business: consume. Consume!
How many desperate, unemployed were here?
How many dying of consumptive living?

Food Drop

A child idled under the crystal blue sky
    kicking an empty aluminum can
    its crashing loudly resounding
    in the lonely, empty air.
Another child darted out from
    a burnt building towards her
    a gun shot rang out behind him
They joined in a game of kick ball.

Droning above brought their heads up
    a low airplane swooped over them
    small packages floated down:
They ran for them -
    life or death:
       something strange and new.

A Trip To The Mall -- Encounter

A disembodied voice resounded th' air:
Welcome courageous shopper-heroes all.
You're safe here; no contamination here.
Enjoy and shop in our agora secure.

Mom Tom observed a woman dreamly
Afloat, unreally going from shop to shop:
Collecting talismen against the gloom.
A skirt, a shirt, a pair of shoes and pants.
And Mother Thomas roiled and tumbled down
In heart and spirit where she sat exposed,
For 'twas Mom John, no more a mom, approaching:
She swept by staring into her abyss.

If only had she not encouraged Xax,
Her Joey John in play so real 'twas real,
He be alive and I'd be happy now!
Our world is bleeding hate at us so strange.
We all alert must be to signs and threats.
But she and hers did not and I and mine
Are tinged with innocent and foolish blood.
She wanders now, no doubt around in guilt!
Welcome consumers; buy to feed us all
And show the terrorists that we are strong.
If only had I looked again and twice.
Might I'd seen just Joey and not that Xax?
O life confused, O life disturbed, O death.
The night descends and light forever gone.
Consumers, want just one? Buy two
And get a free vacation chance!

And now she rose and wondered far away --
Away from th' rush and press into th' old
Deteriorated halls, now cleaned of rays.
Around a corner singing floated by,
'O come by here, my Lord, O come by here."
She followed there and found an aging store.
'Twas given over to a simple school
Of children, poor, forgot, unseen, and aged.
She stood adazed, consumed by her own plight.
One child observed this vacant woman's gaze
And strolled towards her stiff, uncertain frame.
"I am Estella. What's your name?"
And held a rose to her, not red, but white ...

Plowing the Fields

The ragged woman looked up from the steps.
The wind howled through the vacant hall behind
Down the rubble and garbage strewn street
   she saw rumbling a Tractor.
The idling children scurried for cover
   in the windowless hulks.

The sergeant poked his head up
   and spied along the gleaming pipe --
   newly minted --
      a product of righteous consumption,
      a sign of jobs and profit.
It faced the craters and hulks --
   and fired
      crater on crater.

Dying

"I am Estella. What's your name?"

She fell into her eyes,
    dark, bottomless pits
All her past devalued ...
    lightness, joy lost and unfelt
Down, down swift, insensuate
    Yet nauseating ...
Her jewelry ripped off ...
    Her wedding band melted ...
    Her clothes and shoes disintegrated ...
Nothing - no thing deep, and deep
     -- and unknown
Her soul bare of materiality
     -- bare of herself
Floating in those Eyes - drained and vacant

Then beyond
    beyond feeling
        beyond sight and hearing
    a light
She stretched, reached her soul to it
    and it began to reel her in ...
Beyond ...
    she saw herself with Estella
       talking
           planting
    and with her Bobby
       talking
           planting
    together among the Radio Children
       in the Mall

She looked into Estella's eyes and said,
"I'm Mom Tom and Thank you for the Rose."

Preparing Our Children

"O Mom, Look! Over There! That's what I want!"
Mom Thomas gripped her son and went on by.
Displayed across the way a suit for play:
To train, prepare and e'en become an adult,
Designed to be like khaki lined with lead
So real its real, appealing to the Age.
Beyond that glitter Little Bob was towed,
Mom Thomas hunting for a special store.
Consumers, now you can prepare your kids,
Your sons and daughters for the future world,
A full selection of reality toys
To learn and practice neighborhood defense.
"O Mom, Look! Over There! That's what I want!"
Mom Thomas gripped her son and went on by.
Displayed near by a kid's own ID kit.
And yet again not far displayed toy guns,
And toy invasion soldiers, tanks and bombs,
And carriers, sleek and fast, comforting all.

But Mom continued on without a glance.
She had espied her outlet being strangled
Between two mega, glittering super stores.
Inside were bulbs a-plenty: daffodils,
Red roses, purple crocus, white and blue
Hydrangea, varied, beautiful and wild.

She carefully selected crocus bulbs
And towed her son again beyond the maul.
And once again around a corner came
The floating, haunting singing sweet and clear:
"O Come by here, my Lord, O come by here."
With Bobby she sought out Estella's form ...

A Planting

The young man ducked behind the wall
    -- a high pitched screaming and blast!
    -- another blast and blast!

Then silence.

He heard a scratching
Saw his friend rise up
   -- armed
   -- ready to charge
   -- mere bullets on a gleaming steel mountain

He ducked, rushed him
   -- dragged him behind the wall

"No more. No more."
"They won't stop!"
"But we most. Someone has to stop."
" ... and die."
"Maybe. But we have to build. Not pull down.
    Plant. Not root up."
"No where ..."
"Come ..."

They ducked deeper into the 'hood.
Through a ruined door
Into a backyard.
There, the old woman bent over a garden
   tilling, tilling
The young men bent over and helped her. 

The Garden

Estella, Bobby, Mother Tom and crew
Along the side of th' mall arranged a plot:
It reached from door to lot, rich, fertile soil.
With hoe and shovel row on row they made.
And day be day they laid the varied seeds,
Within their shells, new life, new shoots, new hope.

The old woman and the two young men
   looked up from their labor
The entire backyard was planted
The old woman struck her hoe
   in the ground along the side
   ... and continued
The young men followed with the seed ...

Estella stood on th' edge of th' flowering field.
Beyond, th' phalanx reflected blindingly.
She struck her hoe into the soil and plowed
Towards that wall of fire and blasting ...

The old woman looked down the gleaming phalanx
    -- blindingly reflecting
    And struck her hoe into the ground
       one furrow at a time
    And the young men followed

Estella, Bobby, Mother Tom and crew
   The old woman and young men side by side
With hoe and shovel, row on row they made
   plowed and plowed
Until they stood along the line of tanks
   until they stood by the tanks

Their gardens green and colorful
Arrived by tank and soldier true.
There, looking o'er the field of hope
The captain stood down, shook his head
... and wept.

Mom Tom surveyed the scene
   she looked down the phalanx
   and saw yet another garden blooming
   and Mom John standing with hoe in hand
nodding at her ...

Living Bones

 And he said unto me, Son of Man, can these bones live?
    And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.
 Again he said unto me,
    Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, 
    O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.
 Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones;
    Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you,
    and cover you with skin, and put breath in you,
    and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
 So I prophesied as I was commanded:
    and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking,
    and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
And when I beheld, lo,
    the sinews and the flesh came up upon them,
    and the skin covered them above: 
    but there was no breath in them.
Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind,
    prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, 
    Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, 
    and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
So I prophesied as he commanded me, 
     and the breath came into them, and they lived, 
     and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.

©2001, 2002 John A. Mills