Mood Clash: Inequality

 

 

 

 

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A World Apart

The children huddle in the razor cold

that numbs their hunger pangs, as nightfall paints

the stench of squalor on the walls in bold

assurance that their coffin-like restraints

shall never be undone. Once-sugary

and elfish notions barely blossoming

are slumped in grayish pulps of apathy.

Outside are tools of fire for butchering

the innocents, or seething from the great

industrial devices to defile

and blacken human breath. Tomorrow's fate

is cast, but spared in slumber for the while,

and ne'er to breathe the air of destiny

that surges sweet and giftlike over me.

 

 

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And All Shall Prosper

The splendid gentlemen breathe soothing strains

of wisdom like the seraphim, and light

uncertain paths and shadowy terrains

with inspiration certain to ignite

the bleakest soul. Their special expertise

is proffered: sleight and stealth and schemes they weave

to spirit treasures on a silken breeze

to godly pleasure rooms, where they receive

idolaters to covet bulging sacks

of golden coins, and men in jealous trysts

caress their spoils like aphrodisiacs.

But comes a promise from these alchemists:

for all of us their riches will provide,

when breezes, brash and bountiful, subside.

 

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Guardian of the Wealth

 

In bloody ripple of a scowling dawn

awaits the guardian of nectars plucked

from rosy bosoms of the woebegone

disciples of the land, who now construct

their brittle bastions as the being stirs

and bulging fields explode in tapestries

of harvest ambers, and the overtures

of sweet hosannas rise on scented breeze.

And soon the lustful minotaur appears,

attired in swagger and the shroud of night,

and with the flair of knaves and profiteers

he smoothly strokes his swollen appetite

on silver sails to shores of Sybaris,

while those divested ponder the abyss.

 

 

 

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Protectors of Freedom

 

A child awaits the rite of dawn, his frightened eyes

beholding steely gray intoxicated air

that shatters into flaming ribbons in the skies

outside his door, a roaring orangeish spectral glare,

like smirking demons gathering to celebrate.

And far away in savage heat that swirls around

a dusty pit are children forced to extricate

elusive flecks of precious glimmer from the ground,

with fingers raw and swollen. And the dying sigh

of smoking rubble hovers thick and dark and still

above a mother crying out to justify

the bloodied infant in her arms, and lacking will

to carry on. And men and women back from war

exult in recognition as a frantic crowd

applauds each shining knight and gallant matador,

protector of their freedoms in a nation proud

to navigate a steely and sublime machine,

to brandish gadgetry in glimmering display,

to choose a pathway bright and splendid and serene

while laying waste to any threats along the way.

 

 

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Extreme Business

 

Seductive is the spectacle of trade

with no restrictions, opportunities

for everyone, a bubbling cavalcade

of swaps, derivatives, and guarantees

of profit, super yacht and private jet,

and pomp, festoon, champagne and caviar,

from Shangri-la to Xanadu, roulette

a single color in a world bizarre,

like realms concealed beneath the ocean tide.

And just outside this sea of plenitude

are progenies of plutocratic pride

transacting business, asking coins for food.

 

 

 

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Business Sense

 

Behold the peacock perching on his horde

Of silver nesting threads and ornaments

And epicurean repast. "Reward

Is mine," says he, "for cunning, confidence,

Manipulation, and free enterprise,

Which handsomely accoutre my abode."

Upon his denouement I scrutinize

The humble hinterlands as they explode

With avian inhabitants, intense

In their pursuit of domesticity.

Says cock: "With just a whit of business sense

They'd be like me, bedecked in finery."

And propped by puffery he huffs away

To wax alone in feathery display.

 

 

 

 

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Manifest Destiny

 

Unholy savages repulsed us in the west,

but we secured the land with every confidence

in our Creator, as His words made manifest:

the "heathen shall be part of our inheritance."

 

And in the south arose the vital routes of trade,

but primitive societies would jeopardize

our growth until a noble and benign crusade

could serve to "Christianize, redeem, and civilize."

 

And as the engine fueling our resolve ran dry

we ventured east to distant realms, where dusty tombs

and gleaming modern doctrines came to prophesy

the precious lifeblood offered up from ancient wombs.

 

And now the earth and its economies collide,

and frenzy in the markets grows in evidence,

and global appetites remain unsatisfied,

but we are comforted by our preeminence.

 

 

 

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Proteios

 

As I embarked upon my catechismal quest

for noble humankind, I quickly came upon

a trader of securities, who would invest,

contended he, in any upper echelon

negotiation, regulation-free, of course.

While dallying between his yacht and his chateau

I felt I had identified a welcome source

of meritorious veracity, and so

I asked him what's important to society.

With little hesitation came his firm response:

"Without a doubt the marital fidelity

of our revered celebrities -- the nonchalance

with which they scandalize the public is a crime!

And while you ponder this, defer the moribund

economy to me -- it takes a little time

to prestidigitate a weak retirement fund."

Continuing my search, I quickly came upon

a seller of converted hedged derivatives

(if jargon of the sort is in the lexicon),

and with financial stress reduction expletives

he offered his opinion, at a modest price.

I asked him what's important to society.

With little hesitation followed words concise

and Constitutional: "the right to weaponry,

of course, for all injustice can be overcome

without the intervention of a referee."

Intrigued, but stubbornly unwilling to succumb

to such opinions till a sense of certainty

infused my spirit, I proceeded with my search --

and though in virtue's quest at best a hobbyist,

I felt in awe within the inner circle's church

and sanctuary, temple of the Lobbyist,

whose expertise would certainly reveal the Truth.

I asked him what's important to society.

In tones peremptory he answered me: "Uncouth

are those who tolerate the impropriety

of compromise! The left, the right, the gay, the straight,

devoted Socialist or Libertarian,

we must continue argument. To demonstrate

neutrality destroys the whole contrarian

foundation of our Founding Fathers. Put aside

concerns about impending economic woes --

free enterprise without restrictions will provide

prosperity for all. Of course, we won't impose

our will on you -- continue with your arguments,

and don't give in!" Enlightened now, but ill-at-ease,

I turned away, acknowledging these testaments

to Truth with the conviction of Diogenes.

 

 

 

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Kiss of the Gods

 

With pity and chagrin the gods look down

upon the mortals, tattered, beggary,

a breath from Pluto's clutches; and the frown

of Zeus advises that the misery

afflicting humankind he would relieve.

Assembled in a stately council room,

the deities a master plan conceive:

unnumbered mortal souls they would exhume

from spectral tombs of wretched earthly lives.

Petition they the worthy Aeolus,

the lord of wind and tempest, who contrives

a spinning maelstrom in the deep abyss

to smartly spirit precious golden dust

from earthen troves to heights empyrean,

where justice-seeking Furies he'd entrust,

in labors valiantly Odyssean,

to fill celestial vessels with the fruits

of mankind's self-indulgence, to restore

and redistribute based on attributes

of industry and zeal, and to implore

obeisance fitting of recipients.

But hail the scheming demigods: each weaves

his path through kinship with and providence

of Hermes, god of commerce and of thieves.

Such lesser spirits, swift as birds of prey,

do whisk away the riches to a cache

beyond the clouds. The greater gods inveigh

against such knavery, and with a brash

display of magnanimity decree

that all Olympus be at once dispatched

to humankind's avail; prosperity

would not be compromised by those who snatched

the bounty! Better now to manifest

divine intent with wondrous monuments

and roads and cities, at the just behest

of those transcendent. Certain recompense

would be compulsory, in equal shares

from mortals all, as each one celebrates

his fortune through his offering, and swears

allegiance to his noble potentates.

 

 

 

 

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A Fable for a Gilded Age

 

I recollect a party at my uncle's house,

some thirty years ago, a hundred hungry guests,

and tantalizing pie. But some began to grouse

when little Richie Leet (if memory attests)

was inexplicably allowed the biggest piece.

We couldn't argue, though, for we were satisfied

with what we had. As fate would have it - in caprice

or serendipity - my uncle would preside

at our reunion party, thirty years removed,

a hundred guests returning and a luscious pie.

But now, discretion notwithstanding, it behooved

me to complain, or short of that, to testify

for fairness: Richie's piece was bigger than before -

in fact, it nearly tripled in enormity!

"No fair!" I cried. Had Richie done some special chore

to earn his piece? The rest of us would quite agree

that we had even less than thirty years ago!

My uncle spoke at last: the years had made him weak,

he chose to step aside, and it was apropos

that Richie cut the pie himself. With this critique

of party planning sinking in, I looked around

at all the guests, and while I carefully refrained

from judgment or admonishment, without a sound

they stood and wondered why their hunger still remained.

 

 

 

 

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Gini's Turning 1

 

A puppy's sigh, our princess, bloom of Babylon,

her dewy eyes obscuring the museum glass

of parents rising from the dust, a maiden swan

escorting chariots from starry bliss where brass

was turned to gold through whimsy-sculpted alchemy,

and fortune seekers on the gravel-slickened slope

were swept in giddy bounds of seven leagues with key

and compass to the money dens, kaleidoscope

of gaud and flounce and filigree, mosaic glow

of palace halls. But we have pledged to our betrothed,

the scorned and beggarly below, the overflow

of boundless cornucopia, and they'll be clothed

in satin robes and finery, the queen's trousseau.

For this we wait in patience, watching Gini grow.

 

 

 

 

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Hegemony

 

(A play with Hegemon, outspoken leading man;

the innocent Subordo, from a world apart;

and simple Publico, of short attention span;

and Opulo, the merchant.) Let us start.

 

Says Hegemon: "It's vital that we intercede

to help you govern." Says Subordo in reply:

"This serves us well. In compensation we'll concede

our country's wealth." But as its fortunes go awry,

 

Subordo nominates a leader for reform.

Says Hegemon: "His record of debauchery

and greed will devastate your land. You must transform

your nation to a market-based democracy!"

 

The people balk, thus Hegemon's soliloquy:

"Such insolence demands that we suspend

all trade." Subordo, cast aside in misery,

appeals to Hegemon, who promises to send

 

a righteous leader to restore the fragile peace.

Says Publico: "You're welcome to our bank accounts!"

Says Opulo: "Our arms production must increase!"

As Hegemon prepares a gala to announce

 

the victory, Subordo cries, "Our homes are lost,

our land destroyed!" Says Hegemon, "We must denounce

the enemy, and then rebuild at any cost!"

Says Publico: "You're welcome to our bank accounts!"

 

Says Opulo: "Rebuilding? Let me calculate."

And Hegemon declares in mighty voice: "We state

the Truth -- throughout the world our message resonates!"

(Then silence, as production terminates.)

 

 

 

 

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Revolution Dream

 

Once upon a time we heard from Dylan,

tellin' us that things were gonna change.

Stocks and yachts and poverty and killin' --

the times they are a-strange.

 

Once upon a time we heard from Marvin:

poison is the wind across the sea;

escalate the war with children starvin' --

mercy, mercy me.

 

Businessman is getting fatter,

workingman is getting battered,

evermore the chasm growing wide.

 

Revolution. Revolution.

 

 

Once upon a time we heard Ms. Baez,

criticizing spending on the war.

Politicians standing on the dais

calling out for more.

 

Once upon a time we heard from Marley,

voice of our neglected humankind,

telling us Redemption is entirely

a rebel's state of mind.

 

Pheasant on a silver platter,

middle income kids in tatters,

might as well be holding back the tide.

 

Revolution. Revolution.

 

 

Once upon a time we heard from Lennon,

imagining a world that lives in peace.

Still we sing the songs and keep pretendin'

suffering will cease.

 

Revolution. Revolution.

 

Revolution. Revolution.

 

Revolution. Revolution.

 

Revolution. Revolution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Contact:  paul@moodclash.org