BEAUTY IS A LIE

They say you’re beautiful,

But beauty is a lie.

You see that beauty passing by?

 

Now look at her smile.

And the song in her voice.

It could make bitter men rejoice.

 

But for all her magic

All the world can see

Is that she ain’t got double D’s.

 

We misregard her laugh,

And disregard her mind,

But beg to see her great behind.

 

‘Cause that’s all beauty is:

What greedy eyes can see.

They don’t care about you and me.

 

So I’m telling you, son,

Don’t fall for their beauty

‘Cause it’s a mask for cruelty.

——

 

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LEADEN FISTS

Time seemed to stop

As my arms turned to lead.

 

It started with the nails,

Little slats that faded

Blue to purple to black.

 

Then it crept into my fingers.

It seeped along the cracks

In my rusted skin

Till it had covered

Every inch of my hands.

 

It looked beautiful,

Like a spider’s web

Glistening in the morning sun.

A fitting comparison,

For like a spider

It trapped me.

 

The blood in my fingers slowed,

And my hands were colored sickly.

My knuckles locked; curled,

Like I had been consumed

By fear.

The web of patterns

Along my hands

Darkened,

Like a pure bowl of water

Tainted with a splash of black paint.

 

By the time it traveled down my wrists

It was too late to stop.

I watched, horror struck,

As it crawled up my forearms.

Like some primeval force,

Hell bent on my destruction.

 

My heart raced,

Like a gazelle caught between two lions.

But as it crossed my elbows,

It slowed

And stopped.

A stiffness consumed me,

And it hardened inside me.

I could feel every bone,

Every blood vessel,

Every ligament and tendon

Turn to stone.

Then my hands were silent,

Empty,

Dead.

 

Tears poured from my eyes,

Onto the solid rock of my hands,

Yet their cool, salty dew

Went unfelt on my new arms.

They pulled me to my knees—

As the predator pulls its prey to the ground,

Hungry for another kill.

 

I hung there for longer than I know,

Limp; filled with pity.

Till finally I stood.

My body ached,

And felt ten times its weight.

The arms felt foreign,

As the swung lifelessly about.

Yet still, I walked on.

——

 

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I WISH

I wish the stop was as good as the start.

I wish the crop was as good as the carte.

I wish my time was as good as my tits.

I wish my rhyme was as good as the Ritz.

 

I wish the world was a bit more wise.

I wish the pearls were a bit less prized.

I wish my head was a bit more healthy.

I wish the Feds were a bit less filthy.

 

I wish, I wish, I wish, I wish,

But in the end I’m just a fish,

Barreling down into a sea

That’s full of bigger fish than me.

——

 

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CALL TO ARMS (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Tides

As the tide rolls in,

The sand crabs burrow away,

Fearful for their lives.

 

Classical

The piano hums

With twilight melancholy,

That hints our sadness.

 

The Ruler

There’s the twelve-inch man,

Straight edged, erect, and strong. That’s

Why he’s called “ruler.”

 

Blanketed Sunset

As night ousts the day,

The busy beach falls silent,

But we’ll still be warm.

 

Call to Arms

The beat of the drum

Rolls like thunder in the sky;

Our footsteps the storm.

——

 

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PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE

I pledge allegiance to the flag

 

My young eyes followed

Each word on the board dutifully,

As we spoke,

Because I had been told

That’s what a patriot would do.

 

Of the United States of America

 

My home.

Well, my country, at least,

My home was there, too,

But just down the street,

Next to Mikey’s house.

I had never been to somewhere like Texas

Or Tennessee.

Ma said it wasn’t safe there.

 

And to the Republic, for which is stands,

 

And what exactly

Do we stand for?

I wondered.

Uncle Rob and Mom

Were arguing over that

Just the other day.

“You poor people

Are all the same.

Fat. Lazy.

And so irritating,

Begging for my money.”

He had spit.

I remember the contempt in his eyes

When his gaze fell on me.

 

One nation, under God, indivisible

 

Of course, the divide in our family

Was made long before yesterday evening.

Mom had married a Muslim.

And because he translated God

To Allah

Uncle Rob acted like dad was a terrorist.

Then again, so did my classmates,

Which is why mom drops me off

Nowadays.

 

With liberty and justice for all.

 

At the time,

When I rocked back and forth on my heels,

Hand clasped over my heart,

I did not know the term “irony,”

 

But as I would learn,

In my public schooling,

The ideas of “liberty” and “justice”

Are riddled with it.

 

Where was the liberty

When my father was executed

By Mikey’s dad,

The “self-proclaimed” patriot?

 

Where was the justice

When my mother grew weak and weary

From over exhaustion,

While Uncle Rob

Grew fat

With his riches?

 

“For all,”

Echoed through my mind,

As we took our seats in class.

The tattered walls,

The creaky floors,

The wobbly desks,

All reminded me

What a perfect lie that was.

 

There’s no justice for us.

——

 

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THE FLAG-BEARER

The streets filled with the thunder of footsteps as we marched down to the capital. Thousands of us had heard the imperial message of our leader, reminding us of the tentative balance that democracy constantly hung in. Unlike the indecisive nations of the world, however, we were unafraid of our government. Our revolution had been different. Main Street—the street we now trampled on—had been the site of our reincarnation. It had been a bloody debacle, in which many lost their lives on both sides. In the end, however, we had claimed victory, though the red from the blood baths had permanently stained the street a faded red.

I was the flag-bearer—holding the large steel pole to display the symbol of our nationalism. The fabric was a vibrant red, with a gash of heavy crimson through the center, to symbolize the scars of our nation’s beginning. I was near the front, pushed off to the right so that the heads of the masses could approach first. The front-runner was a man dressed in a black leather robe, with a dull silver lining around the edges. On his head sat a matching hat, and he had donned a pair of intimidating shades, despite the overcast weather. He walked with a terrifying air of power.

Since the revolution, he had been named the Enforcer. The role of the Enforcer was just what it sounded like…to enforce the law. He had rescinded his name the day he had been given the role, twenty years ago. His strength of youth had left him, and his stark black hair had been speckled with the salt and pepper of age, yet he walked with an air of resilience. Each of his large strides (for he was nearly six-foot five-inches tall) seemed to rise above the clatter of boots behind him, and each step seemed to shake the Earth itself.

Around his waist were the only two guns in the whole of our nation. After the bloodbath of Main Street, even the most remote villagers could not argue with the destructive force that these weapons were capable of. Only the Enforcer, the final level of judgment, was allowed to bear arms. He was a zealot, but not an unrestricted or careless man in his demeanor. The only zeal he defended in his life was the just treatment of things in life. Hence why he alone could wield the twin pistols with the power to take life in an instant.

But it with the strength of power that men become the most susceptible to corruption. While the Enforcer was a great man—and in many ways still is—he himself has failed his own duties. Perhaps that is why at the capital building there stood a legion of men in all red. They stood atop the stairs, looking down on us, and we halted at the base. The white marble steps contrasted the red of the street stunningly, the way a pillar of light cuts through the darkness around it.

Yet as we stood there, the crimes of the Enforcer paled in comparison to those of our ruler. Broken promises, violent language, and irresponsible behaviors. The minor follies of the average man beg the forgiveness of his peers. I, myself, struggle with my sexism. Even now, I refer to men and mankind, rather than the humanity we live in. Yet in the end, is it our struggles, or whether we overcome them, that should be judged? Do we mock the single stray bullet, or praise the steady hand that has time and again liberated us?

These questions I pondered, with the cool steel of the flagpole in my hand, in the moments before we tore down the regime of anarchy, cut down the battalion before us, and restored order to the people. After, I returned to my lonely desk job, the Enforcer went back to his building, where he drank his nights away, and I assume the rest of the crowd dispersed back to their usual lives…but that one day, the moment we chose to overthrow tyranny and return the power to the people…that’s what makes living worth it. That’s what makes our country great.

——

 

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HIGHER (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Too Many Writers

I read less than write,

But all that I write is read.

Does that make me wrong?

 

Lecture Halls

Click-click goes the pen

As the class drifts off to sleep.

Higher thought indeed.

 

Sleepless Nights

I just want to sleep,

But there are too many lights.

Mom! Stop partying!

 

Patriarchs

“Praise be unto Zeus

For he has brought us the rain!”

Words from a rapist.

 

Higher

I fell through a haze

Of smoke that was in my car

To the universe.

——

 

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MONEY TALKS (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Money Talks

All this money talks

Yet I don’t speak its language

Because talk is cheap.

 

Details

I looked at the desk,

And thought to myself, “what luck!”

They got it in brown.

 

Mutt

The perceptive dog

Will live more in its short life

Than the vain master.

 

Power

Now that is power.

To still fire with their eyes;

Not extinguish it.

 

Rice

Single grains of rice

Do not provide sustenance

When eaten alone.

——

 

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HEROES IN AMERICA

My stomach growled with hunger pains,

Like a lion ready to strike.

I dug through garbage in the rain

Desperate for something that I’d like.

 

It was a black and frigid night,

Like something out of a novel.

Yet heroes overcome their plight,

While I sit freezing and grovel.

 

My toes are blue and frost bitten;

My overcoat tattered and torn;

My socks and shoes have holes in ‘em,

I loathe that I were ever born.

 

Of course, that’s just another day

As a Vet in the U.S.A.

——

 

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DYSTOPIA

“And we’ve returned for another exciting adventure!” The neon green man yelled out from the billboard screen. Exciting indeed, I thought to myself dryly. I was walking along the sidewalk on a dreary Monday, with the sky threatening to break above us. Like myself, everyone was dressed in gray. Gray shirts, gray shoes, gray pants, even gray scarves. I mean, certainly, not everyone was dressed in gray, but it had the gray feel to it. You know, when everyone looks so boringly the same? A couple people had preemptively put their umbrella’s up—though I wonder whether that’s because they expected the rain, or were simply too oblivious to realize that it was not falling yet. I could hear phones buzzing (nobody ever set their phone to ring anymore—who could really take the looks of wonder from strangers when an unexpected song burst out? This was no Disney movie).

I, personally, do not own a phone. Not that it’s a bad idea, but I do not have much reason for it. My family died out a few years back—my mom died after a bout with brain cancer, and I never met my father. If I need to contact friends I know I will see them at work. Work. Everyday, everybody would pile onto the tram and—what? No no no, the tram. There’s no cars where I live. There is the work space and the living space. Each tram travels along a massive circular railing, roughly 8 feet from the ground, with break points at each living space, and at each workstation. To save time, the chairs of the trams fall out and drop people from their seat onto a padded surface. This initially was a problem, until people realized (or rather, were told) that they did not need all the extra baggage they carried. There were printers at work, and everyone’s documents were paired between their workstation and their home. And besides, who has time to do anything special like that anymore? It’s not as though we had energy to do anything after we got off work at night.

After people got off the tram, they would walk through the narrow walkway back to their home. Roads were disposed of quite a while ago—they just took up too much space. The living spaces were already at their maximum safety height—at least, maximum in terms of cost efficiency to safety ratios. And the people had grown so obese that they were losing functionality sooner. A short walk to home on our own time was a little trade for both our health and government time. Still, I feel bad for the eighties. They live nearly ten miles away from the nearest tram stop. But, that’s punishment for low efficiency units.

I live in the fifteens. Fifteens are a great lot. They’re far enough away that the air is still crisp, but not so far that it’s a voyage to Tram Stop #3. There’s no “early to work” or “late to work” anymore. People come and go as they please. The companies decided it would be more freeing to do that. But there is a minimum work efficiency barrier, and in the even that it is not met the companies and the government have taken measures to motivate people to get back to work. They will limit warm water, leisurely Internet access, and reduce the quality of food flavor. Consistently low efficiency units are moved further away until they fix their problem—assuming their space hasn’t been reassigned yet. The fifteens are pretty high—I have worked quite hard to earn my flat. It even has a couch. You never really realize what it’s like to not have a couch until you sprawl out on one.

But enough thought about home. The walk to work from the tram station—Tram Station #92, to be precise—is quite a sight. The busy lights, the gray masses of men and women. It’s really something to look at. Everyone has a screen in their face, protective glasses on to keep the light from frying their eyes over time—early blindness was a sign of systematic inefficiency. The air was moist, yet as always it was nearly odorless. The light scent of rose petals wafted through the air. I’m told somewhere, a higher up has the last garden in the sector, and that we are lucky they leave the window open for us to smell it. Though, truth be told, I’m almost certain they simply pump the scent into the airwaves. Otherwise that would be a vacation attraction.

——

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