30 October, 2011

Wasteland – by J.C.E.



1. Cassandra

i am a Prophetess
ignored and forgotten
seeing Truths others
do not want to see
cannot see
speaking Truths people
loathe and spurn
cannot understand

i see Shadows
stretched out before me
and Shadows
extended far behind
and i offer to my Owner
a heart made of dust



2. Education’s Voices

Stripped bare of technology
Gutted of intrigue and mystery
Filled with corroded compassion
Splayed wide for admittance
Closed to truth and rigor
Swathed in hope (threadbare)
Sixteen hundred residents
Termed community by demarcation


She be up in front of the classroom
Soundin’ all white
That bitch
Don’t know nothin’
‘Bout teachin’
The thugs and niggers we got on up in here
Claimin’ “Respect each other”
And “Respect the classroom”
What she really sayin’
“Respect me.”
Sistah! I ain’t got no respect for no white
‘Specially when they got a cock ‘neath their skirt.


A lost family
To replace lost family
I came here looking for
A fresh life?
An opportunity to be
Without history?


I can’t believe her
The guts that girl’s got
To be coming into a school
Of anger and bitterness to her kind
And teaching students who would
Just as soon steal from her
Her courage just ’cause
They’ve got none


I cannot remember the last time I cried
It might’ve been yesterday or a hundred years ago
But it was not over them
They do not get to come to school with me
I am not going to be one of those girls
Flashing pictures of her babies around on her iPhone
I have a chance at a future
For my children but if I am going to earn it
I cannot cry
when I leave them with grandma every morning



3. O City City

her opulent apartments no longer stand erect
their foundations leached away from beneath
by Vandals and Visigoths, patient rot and mold
and destruction ‘neath the jaws of frost and time

her buildings list like snarled teeth in giant
killer Jack’s crushed and mangled form and her
sidewalks jut and buckle up and out tossed
aside by his felled and bitter wormwood stalk

her streets are empty now, her heralds
having long since blown the end to revelry;
no longer do the pigeons circle overhead
without the crumbs beget by elder men



4. The Drowned Sailor

Cobblestone made dark and slick by rain
The crisp Autumn temperatures not quite
Brisk enough to turn the film to an ice-glaze
The air is damp and cold with chilling rain
The northwest wind cuts marrow with its bite
He tromps for warmth in the weak winter rays

And turns up the heavy collar on his pea coat
Earned during his Navy stint in the Persian Gulf
Desert Shield/Storm, not this recent cock-up
Thirty-two grams of wool are in a bridge coat
He was glad for it at night in the desert gulf
In bitter cold not mentioned during sign-up

He is even more grateful for the lamb’s sacrifice
As he pounds the sidewalk between offices
Desperate to have a job when his Navy pay stops
Till then he cuts frills, he lives on beans and rice
(Dreams of meats like steak and Polish sausages)
And walks to save thirty-two cents at bus stops


The work held little meaning
beyond which lead to the ends.
Shifting printed pages from one
stack to another, repeating action
Lifting Hauling Loading Aerating
The responsibilities of a materials
handler in a modern print bindery.

The warehouse that contained the
Binding machines was the antithesis
Of the page stacks littering its floor.

    It was a
    a maze


“surrounded by
stacks of pages

“to  be  fed  onto
the    conveying
track                to
the           gaping
mouth              of
the binder by its

“minion materials handler,”

Imagined the former Chief Petty Officer.
But for the pages sacrificed
To the binders by the handler

“space meant to be filled; the words on each duplicated and duplicated page running together like the seams in my bridge coat, neat and tight, woven close but never quite abutting.”

His mind often strayed to strange
And poetic imaginings like these.
Each day he labored at the bind-
ery he surrendered a little more
Of himself to the great binding
machine. Pity to witness such
Creativity wasted by the menial and
Thankless task of binding books for
Some other mind to consume.


His past was a handful of stones
Worn smooth in his grip.
Though polished by memory,
These stones still had weight
And he drowned clutching them.



5. Unreal City

the black asphalt with its cracks and gaps
continues unceasingly toward the West
passing decrepit buildings with boarded eyes

convenience, a Rubicon these shops could not pass,
was too enticing for those who dwelt here
now even Mom and Pop get gas and food from Wal-Mart



6. Tyra

Despite the people gathered close
Despite the warm blood pumping out
Despite the seriousness of her condition
Despite the EMTs kneeling by her

died from prejudice, not from injuries
bled out across the hot, black asphalt
heard the laughter and I wonder, did
know it was her saving angels laughing?

angels brought on swift steel wings
trained to act with speed and grace
disturbed by what they do not approve
bigoted and cruel turn fallen angels



7. Unholy City

christmas is the cruelest time
selfishness runs as thick molasses
stores are swaddled in gilt and tinsel
pine and blue spruce tinge the air

streets are bright with festive lights
goose-flesh is browned and gravy dappled
mistletoe, the spurned lover’s vengeance
stuffed Wenceslas is napping

children sleep to hunger pains
good men shiver in the bitter cold
women mourn the loss of aged love
Death knows not the holidays

angels weep alone



8. The Worthies

we are second class citizens
we are outlaws and rebels
Prophets to a doomed generation
a generation born to self annihilation

seeing Truths others
cannot see
do not want to see
speaking Truths people
cannot understand
loathe and spurn

we are the Shadow
stretching out before you
we are the Shadow
extending out behind

we are the Doctor
to a lost and hurting people
we are a Song of Hope
our voice cannot be drowned

we are the eighteen Worthies
Hector and Lucretia
Alexander and Veturia
Julius Caesar and Virginia
Joshua and Esther
David and Judith
Judas Maccabaeus and Jael
Arthur and Helena
Charlemagne and Bridget
Godfrey of Bouillon and Elizabeth

we the Earth’s heart of dust
ever-present, ever-wearing

we overcome

One comment

  1. I have written a novel, a collection of short stories, and a myriad of articles, but I think I am more proud of this poem and its cry for social justice than anything else I have done.

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