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“Stimulus Package” & Other Poems

LibertyScaffolding [1]492 words

Stimulus Package

So desperate to escape the seething welter
Of economic crises and misdeeds
Uncounted, refugees will seek the shelter
Of any halfway decent host. Their needs

Are few: a bite of cheese, a bowl of broth,
A tablespoon or two of grape-seed oil,
A gram of kosher salt, a tablecloth,
And beds of straw on which they can uncoil 

Their knotted muscles. Refugees have nephews
Who tag along and live beside their aunts
And uncles, trying to survive on refuse
Discarded by their elders, with a chance

Eventually to move to nicer quarters
Where they can help support the relatives
Their siblings have begotten. New world orders
Are fertile habitats where hope still lives

For nubile nieces with an ounce of sense.
If they are comely, they can marry up
And trade their charms for privileged indolence;
But if they’re not, they still can dip a cup

Into the public trough and earn a living
By dropping babies in the urban bastard
Factories. Rolling Christmas and Thanksgiving
Together is a skill no few have mastered.



Seeing that he suffered from arthritis,
we were some surprised by his apparent
willingness to stand his ground and fight us
tooth and nail as though he thought we daren’t

grapple the infirm. He was mistaken,
for we left him broken in the gutter
of the street and, we believed, forsaken
by the people of the town. The utter

ruthlessness with which we preyed on sleeping
settlements, the sudden shock our morning
forays brought to bear, were both in keeping
with our aim to quash defense. No warning

then, for us, when from the doors of houses
town folk streamed, red rage where once mere pallor,
women running right beside their spouses,
all to vindicate an old man’s valor.

Those of us who made it to the bivouac
licked our wounds, lamenting heavy losses,
contemplating tortures—fitting payback
owed to our disfavored former bosses.


The Swedish Inquisition

For Derek Burgoyne

Tread lightly. Let your prejudice declare
Itself in finely-wrought uncertain terms,
And take your stand in rarefied fresh air
Devoid as yet of pathogenic germs.

Invite your old sworn enemies to supper,
And tell them how the virulent disease
You carry means that you still hold the upper
Hand. Should they bristle at your tone, appease

Them insofar as your intransigence
Allows. Though life affords no metronomes
Sufficient to the songs of innocence,
Foundations built on artifice raise homes

For many an effete community—
Or so the unofficial story goes.
It’s never easy letting bygones be
The bygones almost everybody knows

Will always be remembered. Don’t be shocked
When people who’ve offended you hold grudges
For what you made them do. You will be mocked
If you insist on justice sober judges

Have taken pains to render. Get a dog,
And train it to be faithful to its duty,
For who’s to say a well-adjusted cog
In meshing gears is not a thing of beauty?