Mood Clash

Human Rights




Torn from Woman, Torn from Earth


In delicate and savage motions flesh 

disgorges, like a rotting passion fruit,

as twisted carnival reflections mesh

with wailings from a ravaged prostitute

discarded to the painted grimaces

on alley walls. And tiny fingers scrape

bijouterie from womblike surfaces

till bloodied senses callus, as the rape

by phallic masters of a butchered earth,

bravado spurting from their whiskied seed,

ejects the wretches in disfigured birth,

in pull and thrust and pull -- the vulgar deed

proceeding in a violent reprise

that spirits boyish dreams from lifeless eyes.





Contemptuous the wind that whips and cracks

About the man, his face a surly bough

Of icy bristles scoffing at attacks

On flesh that fifty August wars endow

With leathered armor; anguished shapeless twigs

Of calloused bone in tattered mittens speak

His only words as all the world reneges

On promises; an Everyman mystique

Surrounds him, even as the gulf between

A world removed from humankind's debris

And one compelled to bully and demean

Inters the relics of his dignity.

His limping steps beneath a swirl of white

I paint anew in portrait every night.






The vulgar throb and throes of hunger lash

the man from deep inside: an anguished beast

obeys a primal call to wail and slash

till fading pleas for clemency have ceased.

A terse and natty lord of commerce flares

his bully nostrils in polite disdain,

all prig and peacock are the patron's airs

as fussed and flaunting windows entertain,

and puppy-eyed the urchins sniggering

in tribute to the unexpected sport.

With soundless shooing and admonishing

the man his herded masters do exhort,

as blurring shreds of his humanity

are swept into the city street's debris.




Of the Street


A Sunday's dusk, beneath the blackened hush

of city streets, old headlines fluttering

in storefront corners, and the sickly blush

of streetlamps and the steely sputtering

of empty flagpoles. Revelry departs

a doorway, glassy eyes that stare beyond

the void to proper worlds where pleasure starts

anew. The street belongs to vagabond

and beggar, blighted wretch who calls it home,

his legacy in pocket, daily bread

in scattered coins, abode a catacomb

of rail and grime upon a concrete bed:

effects we gentle citizens deplore,

and come the light endeavor to ignore.







A monolith, this stoic warrior,

his shield erect against the stinging sleet

that pours from apathy, a barrier

of battle-weary blurred and bittersweet

tomorrow's end that girds a brittle reed

in bloodied earth and stigma and the stench

of violated humanness, as greed

perspires from condescending eyes to drench

his tattered coat of mail in solitude,

and pocked and teary fields of battle pull

him closer to a blessed interlude

with roots once promising, once prodigal.

The righteous rise in virtuous refrain,

as frigid sidewalks darken in disdain.




Slave Boy


We run as if an agitated earth

were breaking up behind us, and we fight

to gain our stations at the gritty trough

half-filled with corn, where each survivor's worth

is daily measured by another's right

to fair apportionment denied; and off

our makeshift plates of muddied, calloused hands

ensues a squealing angry vulgar rush

to suck the greasy nourishment before

there is no more, beneath the reprimands

of our possessors, who behold the crush

of vermin squirming to and fro, and roar

with ridicule at other men's distress.


And now the furnace of the picking fields:

my sweat, like acid, so intense the heat;

the layers of my skin in merciless

assault laid bare, as one would flay the shields

of weary swordsmen crumbling in defeat.

For I am just machinery, a tool;

and I must step and lift and strip and clear,

again, again, until all hope becomes

a moment's respite from another's rule,

a storm-whipped seedling doomed to persevere

until its fleeting energy succumbs.


The night, at last, should be our time of peace.

Instead a tempest rises from inside

of me - my brother kneels before the fire;

and all the creatures of the darkness cease

their plaintive calls, the churlish winds subside;

to touch his breath the spirits all conspire,

as like a starry pond his amber skin

reflects a thousand beaded silver pearls

of terror; time and motion seem to pause;

a fearsome crackling - flesh explodes, the din

of horror as a scarlet vapor curls

above bewitching firelight; and the cause

of all the misery of humankind

is set aglow upon the lustful eyes

of those in witness to the spectacle;

his swelling body thrashes in a blind

contortion at the resonant reprise,

the whistlings of the lash a chronicle

of limits to endurance, or of prey

in final battle, and we both recoil

with every searing flash of brilliant white;

the wordless ritual proceeds till day

begins, and merciful the rite of toil

to shroud the distant memories of night.


The valuation: ox and mule and I

are harvesters, production's pulse and breath;

the traders, sure as scripture of their just

and righteous task, assess and quantify,

and probe and estimate each life and death;

like seed we will be spread among the dust.

I watch my mother's face: 'tis just as well

they hack away her arm, so great her pain;

but all her tears dissolve in scenes of mirth

and profit, as the men who buy and sell

the bucks and hands and breeders do ordain

for us a last embrace upon their earth.

Our dearest bond is cherished; as the men,

becoming restless, hurry us along.

Once more I'd like to gather a bouquet

for her, to see her smile; and once again

to drift to slumber on an angel's song

as all my fears of darkness slip away.





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