Posted in Uncategorized

MOANA Review 

(With the approach of Moana’s release on Blu-ray, I thought it only appropriate to share my review)

 I have to admit, upon hearing about it, I was a little worried about Disney’s newest offering, Moana. After all, Disney has been doing such a great job with their animation this year. Zootopia absolutely blew me away and I was entirely unprepared for the depths of that journey, which is the rarest and most welcome gift that a movie-goer can receive. After that experience, I was concerned that a return to the Disney Princess format may signal a regression of sorts, but I was wrong. Moana was more than a worthy entry into its intended genres; this film was exactly what 2016 needed. 

 For many, 2016 has been a rough year, filled with disappointment, grief, and fear. All of these emotions give one a sense of, “Where do we go from here?” This dogging question of both deeply personal and widely cultural wandering isn’t merely addressed in Moana, but answered loud and clear, though it’s possible I’m getting ahead of myself.
 When I originally saw the trailer for Moana, I assumed it would be similar to Pocahontas, with elements of Finding Nemo in it. Upon exiting the theater for the first (of three!) theatrical viewings, I realized the movie was more like Brave meets Hercules, which shouldn’t be surprising, considering that one of the creators was responsible for Hercules, and this was a nice blending of elements for me, since I happen to enjoy mythology quite a bit. And, boy, does the mythology grip you right out of the gate.
 Moana opens with an ominous myth about a demigod named Maui, using his magical fish-hook that allows him to shape-shift to steal the Heart of Creation from the mother island, Teh Fiti, which leads to a confrontation between Maui and a dark god named Te Ka. The encounter ends with Maui struck down and both his fish-hook and the Heart lost to the sea. Moana’s grandmother, Tala, tells this tale to a group of young island dwellers, a toddler Moana among them, and, naturally, Moana is the only one of them filled with a sense of wonder rather than dread. Moana’s grandmother insists that this myth is rooted in reality and that, one day, the sea will choose someone to find Maui and enlist his aid to restore the Heart and cleanse the Earth of its sickness. This doesn’t sit too well with Moana’s father, the island chieftain, who forbids his people from venturing beyond the safety and idyllic comfort of the island’s reef. 
 From there, the story is one quite familiar to Disney fans. Through an act of selflessness, Moana is chosen by the sea to find Maui and restore the Heart to Teh Fiti, and it’s a journey filled with both internal and external obstacles.
 It’s a story of overcoming fear to discover who you really are. Only, it’s more than that: the message of being true to the best versions of ourselves is far from confined to Moana or the young girls who can relate to her character. This film offers a commentary on the tug of war that exists within a multifaceted contemporary society and challenges us to find the bravery to not only look the darkest aspects of our souls in the eye but to fight for the right of our best selves to exist in the face of apathy and heartache. There is a message within that says we need more than the honesty it takes to admit our faults, because we are more than one thing: we can be angry and afraid but we must also remember we are descended from brave women and men who found the courage to seek new horizons and use new ideas to find them. And we betray that bravery when lose that desire for a New Frontier. As the movie shows, it’s all too easy to adopt the notion that we’ve achieved enough and the world beyond our sphere of knowledge and power has nothing to offer us, but the safety of that lie will eventually betray us just as we betray the heritage of our cultural heroes. 
 These themes are dressed up in Disney staples like songs, sidekicks, and seemingly impossible quests. The storytelling hiccups are few and far between, like perhaps having one or two too many songs that run long, though maybe the evident value of screen time speaks to Moana’s sense of urgency. We’re given great performances from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Maui and, of course, Auli’i Cravalho as Moana. There are also subtle but undeniably significant contributions from Alan Tudyk as Heihei the Chicken, Nicole Scherzinger as Moana’s mother, Sina, and Temuera Morrison as Moana’s father, Chief Tui. However, Rachel House as Moana’s grandmother, Tala, steals every scene and song in which she’s featured. House infuses the film with a level of soul that it could have easily lacked if the movie lost its sense of heritage and honor. And the power of that soul is persistent throughout, carried on through Moana from the first time we see the wonder in her eyes right until the end of the film, when that wonder is transformed into purpose. 
 Moana found her way.
 Now, with a new year looming, we must find ours.

(December, 2016)

Posted in Comic Books, Literary Analysis, Pop Culture, Reviews

Kingdom Come–A Reflection

“Armageddon has arrived.”

Those who have been fortunate enough to dive into Mark Waid and Alex Ross’  1996 DC Comics miniseries, Kingdom Come, will never forget the splash page of Captain Marvel standing over an old, frantic, and bloodied Superman.

At this point of the tale, Billy Batson aka Captain Marvel has been corrupted by Lex Luthor and sent into a superhuman battle so massive that it quite literally rocks the planet. By uttering the word, “Shazam,” Captain Marvel transforms from orphan Billy Batson into a magical powerhouse capable of challenging the raw might of Superman, which was precisely his task from Luthor. Superman was streaking across the sky at speeds far faster than a speeding bullet, intent on containing the rapidly escalating super-powered war, before he was struck from the heavens by the younger, stronger, mind-controlled Captain Marvel.

Indeed, in an epic comic book series filled with iconic imagery, perhaps no other panel or page captures both the spirit of the story and the imagination of the audience. But why is this?

One of most effective methods of catching a reader’s attention is to knock down the proverbial dominoes that they  so meticulously set up, and Waid masterfully draws from the entirety of DC Comics history in this endeavor. Domino #1 in Waid’s sights: Superman can and will save the day.

At the beginning of the story, it’s made clear through the perspective of a small-town pastor that the superhuman community as it stands is a far cry from the DC status quo. A new generation of metahuman, faster, dirtier, and meaner, has risen in place of icons like the Justice League, Justice Society, and Teen Titans. The pastor, Norman McCay, is experiencing a crisis of faith in an apathetic world and finds himself begging for answers from above, and instead receives a guide in the form of The Spectre, God’s spirit of vengeance. McCay is told by The Spectre that he may accompany him as an ethereal observer of events that are shaping a potential end of humanity. Norman agrees, and their first stop is the Man of Steel.

When the imperceptible Norman and Spectre find Superman, he’s living peacefully, alone on a fake farm within his Fortress of Solitude, now more aptly named than ever, but his peace is disturbed by the arrival of one of his oldest and most powerful allies, Wonder Woman, Diana of Themyscira and once-Queen of the Amazons. Diana is observed pleading with Superman to return to the world and resume his role as the planet’s premier protector, but it’s clear this isn’t the first time she’s made this pitch. For all of his sensory powers, Wonder Woman’s words have a difficult time penetrating Superman’s conscience. He sends her away, but, before long, turns to the long-dormant monitoring systems of the Fortress to gain a sense of all that has transpired during his self-imposed exile.

The notion of Superman, of all Earth’s defenders, refusing an opportunity to help those in need causes Norman to naturally question The Spectre about the status of Superman’s traditional superhero compatriots. The pair of observers leave the Man of Steel to his monitors and turn their attention to ex-members of the now-defunct Justice League of America.

Batman, the Dark Knight of Gotham now sits in his cave, broken but not beaten, controlling a legion of Bat-Drones that wage his endless war on crime. The Flash never stops racing across his hometown of Central City to right every wrong, no matter how big or small. Green Lantern stands as a lonely guardian in an emerald citadel of his own making, keeping a watchful eye out for otherworldly threats. Martian Manhunter’s powerful mind has been broken through his attempts to open up his thoughts to humankind’s ills on a planetary scale. And Aquaman has retreated to and refocused on his undersea kingdom of Atlantis, paying little attention to the problems above his waves.

The new generation of superheroes, including sons and daughters of Justice League and Justice Society founders, have lost their sense of priorities, purpose and moral direction in the their predecessors’ absence. At last, Superman realizes how much the world desperately needs his help and dons the cape once more. Soon enough, the words, “Look! Up in the Sky!” can again be spoken, not with terror, but with hope.

Superman soon rallies his old friends to a cause of restoring order to the world and educating a new crop of metahumans on the difference between right and wrong. The task isn’t an easy one, as Superman’s approach faces opposition from the ranks of an older but no less dangerous Legion of Doom, led by Lex Luthor, as well as a dissenting movement started by Batman, the other half of what was once The World’s Finest Team.

It’s worth noting that setting all these pieces in motion is accomplished by Waid and Ross within a single issue, the end of which sees The Spectre delivering an ominous warning to the mortal McCay: despite the reinvigorated mission of the Man of Tomorrow, the threat of the apocalypse is far from over.

This lengthy preamble is necessary to grasp the complexity and scope of what the creators of Kingdom Come set out to communicate about the characters, the comic book industry, and perhaps the world at large. First, the characterization in Kingdom Come is impeccable; not only are the literary portraits of individual characters true to heart, but the crux of each relationship between these modern day titans of myth is laid bare. This is no more evident than within the dynamic of DC’s Trinity: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.

It becomes clear that, despite possessing a fraction of a fraction of their physical capability, Batman views himself as superior to Wonder Woman and Superman for one vital reason: he’s never killed. Batman represents the pinnacle of human physical and mental achievement, which earns him no small measure of respect from Superman and Wonder Woman, who dedicate their godlike power to standing up for the best that humankind has to offer. The upbringings of Wonder Woman and Superman couldn’t have been more different, as Diana was raised in an elevated position of royalty, reveling in her grasp on the truth, prowess as a warrior, and safety of her island’s seclusion. Meanwhile, Superman was raised on a small farm as Clark Kent and taught to seek out new ideas and cultures, to be humble, and to refrain from engaging in conflict out of fear of exposure and bringing harm to those weaker than himself. Despite those different paths, these two share the bond of taking criticism from Batman rather seriously, because, to them, it’s as if he’s speaking on behalf of all humankind.

What’s more, Batman is smart enough to know this and use it.

There is a point in the story when Superman attempts to recruit him to his mission, but Batman underscores how battles for hearts and minds cannot be won through good intentions alone. Batman even later taunts Wonder Woman, for all her allegiance to the truth, with her inherently contradictory nature as both an ambassador of peace and perhaps the greatest warrior alive. It would be enough for Waid to simply use the almost-always-correct Dark Knight as a prism for concise characterization, but this is just one (albeit important) dynamic.

All of the major characters take turns in exercising a certain self-awareness, dissecting their setting and those within it in a manner that only reinforces the sense that these characters bear a significant weight of history. And it’s that burden that tips Domino #2: the good guys know what’s best.

The topic of superheroic moral ambiguity was broached several significant times in the comic book industry during the 1990s, and for good reason. In the previous decade, DC Comics alone had published at least three key stories that sought to subvert the nature of superheroes: The Dark Knight Returns, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Watchmen. Like Kingdom Come The Dark Knight Returns, written by Frank Miller, and Watchmen, penned by Alan Moore, existed outside of the contemporary continuity; they offered readers a taste of what could be without tampering with the monthly stories that were being published at the time. Crisis on Infinite Earths, on the other hand, occurred right in the middle of DC’s core continuity, up-ending and remixing it in an attempt to open up new angles of storytelling and get rid of deadweight.

What these three stories had in common is that they revealed their respective authors’ takes on what superheroes were capable of when pushed to the extreme. Moore’s Watchmen stands out the most from a historical perspective because, after being denied permission to use Charlton Comics characters like Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, and The Question for his story, Moore was free to do whatever he wished with homage characters like Dr. Manhattan, Nite-Owl, and Rorschach, respectively. The freedom from continuity and long-term consequences allowed Moore to tell the most subversive of the three tales, crafting an ending that is still a topic of debate 30 years later.

The impact of Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, and Crisis on Infinite Earths reverberated quickly and strongly throughout the comics industry as the 90s dawned. Comic book fans were engrossed by the large scale and dire stakes of these stories, demanding more potent consequences and more realistic artwork. This demand led to a boom in sales for DC Comics and their number one rival, Marvel, until several prominent creators broke free of the Big Two to form their own publisher, Image  Comics, and a new comics giant was suddenly on the scene.

It wasn’t long before Image started to take a significant bite out of the Big Two’s market share and characters named Spawn, Savage Dragon, and  Witchblade began to be mentioned in the same breath as icons like Superman, Wolverine, and Spider-Man. As objectively refreshing as it might have been to have more competition and more characters, there were undoubtedly some negative consequences that accompanied the shift towards comics heavy on grit and light on characterization.

A significant factor that led to the exodus of Image founders from the Big Two was the traditional handling of creator ownership of characters they developed. In fact, DC Comics had been embroiled in a legal battle over ownership of Superman with the estates of his creators, Joel Siegel and Joe Shuster. Image Comics, however, was created with the intent of passing along the monetary rewards of their imaginations to creative teams. Essentially, this shaped a situation in which sales figures were never far from the minds of artists and writers.

During this surge of creator-owned titles that were unburdened by decades of continuity and given the freedom to explore previously taboo levels of titillation, DC and Marvel were desperate to keep pace. DC competed with Image by rolling out darker event storylines: Green Lantern went insane and betrayed his allies; Batman was broken and replaced; and Superman was killed in a brutal clash with the monster Doomsday. Meanwhile, Marvel, having lost more of its popular creators to Image, bet big on its X-Men titles that were launched to the top of the sales charts under Chris Claremont and Jim Lee.

In the midst of this clash between old and new, a miniseries called Marvels was released by its publishing namesake; it was a story from Alex Ross and Kurt Busiek that recounted the Golden and Silver Age of Marvel from the perspective of a journalist who unwittingly works alongside Spider-Man aka Peter Parker. Marvels thrust Alex Ross into the spotlight and he became one of the most sought after talents. It wasn’t long before Ross wanted to see if he could make lightning strike twice by replicating his success with DC characters. Although Ross was unable to work with his preferred writer for the project, James Robinson, Ross was paired with Mark Waid, who had purposely rebuffed the rising tide of grim comics and possessed a knowledge of DC Comics lore so extensive that it was said to be superhuman.

Thus, Kingdom Come was born.

On the surface, it would be easy to say that Waid and Ross’ dystopian superhero epic went in the opposite direction than the grim, art-centric fare of the time. The truth, though, is that Kingdom Come’s creative team brilliantly utilized the best elements of 90s comics to lure in both old and new readers. The spot-on characterization  establishes an anchor point that both feels familiar to longtime DC faithfuls and sets the standard for the uninitiated.

And, armed with historical context, it becomes clear that Kingdom Come’s themes and metaphors target not just the industry trends of the time, but the fickle nature of comic book fans. This leads to the final and perhaps most important domino for Waid and Ross to tackle: the existence of a direct correlation between popularity and virtue.

It is eventually revealed in Kingdom Come that, in years prior, Superman went into exile after the death of Lois Lane, the love of his life, at the hands of The Joker. Following the manhunt and capture of the Clown Prince of Crime, Superman had sought to confront Joker before his arraignment. Before Superman could face his love’s  murderer, Joker was killed by a metahuman upstart named Magog, who then insisted he had simply  accomplished what the likes of Superman were unwilling or incapable of doing. The subsequent acquittal of Magog and wave of public support for this brand of justice led Superman to believe that the world didn’t want his help anymore. It wasn’t until Superman returned that he and the public realized how wrong they all were.

Still, there comes a moment in the tale when Superman and perhaps the readers themselves see that, by using their station and ability to attempt to force a specific brand of morality down people’s throats, metahumans (and, maybe, comic book publishers) simply create a moral monolith that invites, maybe even demands, resistance. The Dark Knight Returns, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Watchmen all include characters that are trying to reshape the world, or worlds, in their image, convinced that they know what’s right. But, this path to hell is proudly walked by the villains of these stories, and Superman eventually realizes that good-intentioned villainy is all that ultimately awaits him at the end of his mission.

There has been criticism both within the fictional DC Comics world and the industry readership that Superman is too passive, that he needs to take a more direct role in guiding his fellow superheroes and the people of his adopted planet. Kingdom Come plays with this idea and shows us what happens when Superman’s might and morality mix with this mob mentality. After he loses Lois, his anchor to mankind, Superman also loses his grasp on his greatest superpower of all: his human heart.

At the climax of this epic, Superman is pushed to the point of abandoning everything he believes in and embracing what some would say is his rightful place as judge, jury, and executioner for all mankind. It is only through the intervention of Norman McCay, a meek and weathered pastor, that the planet is spared the Man of Steel’s godlike wrath, and it doesn’t happen with the help of the Spectre or Wonder Woman or Batman. It isn’t magic or physical force or even intellect that stays Superman’s hand; it’s one word, a name that the Man of Tomorrow hasn’t taken to heart in a very long time:

Clark.

When Norman calls Superman by his adopted name, all of Waid’s dominoes fall in the direction of the ultimate enemy of Superman’s approach, the comic book industry, and the world: extremism. By calling him Clark, Norman reminds Superman, as well as the audience, that true peace, with ourselves and each other, comes from balance. Superman was able to operate with the public’s full trust for so long because he always kept one foot on the ground as Clark Kent; he balanced his gargantuan power levels with a humble human life. It’s this realization that allows Clark to remember that being Superman means living by example, never thinking that might makes right, and putting forth his best self, and finally he trades his rage for mercy.

Waid could have easily crafted a story that just mocked the comic book industry for its acquiescence to hollow short-term trends and demanded that everyone tell the same kind of morally simplistic tales he grew up with. Instead, through Superman, Waid backs off this approach and suggests getting reacquainted with our roots, as readers, creators, and human beings. Ross and Waid show us how essential it is that we take a hard look at the truth and use it to balance the tightrope of justice without forgetting the foundation of the American Way: second chances.

In essence, Kingdom Come was the ultimate response to the tide of darker superhero stories that rose in the wake of Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, and Crisis on Infinite Earths. It hooked fans of those stories with its grim, apocalyptic stakes and gorgeous artwork, then used strong characterization to pull them back from any sense of pride for vapid apathy that the comic industry, maybe even the world, had given them.

And, just as new generations of readers became familiar with the dark tales of the 80s and the subtlety-free early 90s, new creators would take up Waid and Ross’ banner to defend the basic concepts of hope, self-awareness, and rebirth. At the turn of the century, writers like Grant Morrison, Gail Simone, Joe Kelly, Greg Rucka, James Robinson, Jeph Loeb, Paul Dini, Keith Giffen, and, of course, Geoff Johns followed the example set by Kingdom Come, and refused to let the DC Comics universe succumb to the approach that nearly brought down the industry. They reminded the comics world that things like the symbol on Superman’s chest aren’t just powerful marketing tools; they mean something to all humanity, fictional or otherwise.

The post-Kingdom Come era wouldn’t be free of its missteps and fumblings, but the well of Truth, Justice, and the American Way can always be replenished by those who seek it within Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ revolutionary work.

Though a hollow but no less purposeful and powerful enemy to our best selves may loom over us, we simply have to find the strength to battle on for a better tomorrow. When Armageddon arrives, we must stand, fight, and win.

Posted in Poetry

My Princess

I shall never forget when first I saw her
There was joy in the kingdom
First was bore a son
And then came this daughter

Of His entire kingdom, He cherished her the most
She was to be kept purest
Most beautiful
And never left the gates without a host

After she came to be it had been years
Before our King
Allowed us to treat our eyes to her
So stunning was she to bring forth tears

Over time I had watched the King’s son
He dealt out the judgement
Held command of armies
Now came the daughter to be the passionate one

She walked amongst her subjects on a warm windy day
Strolled with guardsman
Who lunged
When her royal headdress was blown away

Coincidence it was not that it landed by my feet
They started at me
Before I realized what it was
Guards snatched it from my grasp without such as a greet

I caught a precious glimpse of her through those around her
For all of one second our gaze met
From that moment I knew
I must do something to impress and astound her

I delve myself into magiks known to none
Amassed knowledge most dark
Tapped into potential
That of previous was held in the hands of one

Only our King himself knew might such as this
I gathered power to me
And hoped it was enough
To win his daughter’s favor, if only it be one kiss

I used my newfound powers to enter the palace
Invisible I became
To the eyes of the guards
Who held within them for trespassers only malice

I moved past the pillars, in the vast halls
Cloaked in darkness
Concealed in shadow
And walking through the walls

I found her chambers and walked through her door
She was looking in the mirror
Brushing her golden hair
I was scared to speak; perhaps the wrong words would outpour

I uttered a few words, giving my visage substance once again
“I . . .” I stammered
She turned
And I expected her to summon royal guardsmen

“You . . .” she said making my heart flutter
Did she recognize me?
Did she know my name?
I was afraid to shatter the moment, scared to utter

“Come with me.” I at last said
A smile grew on her face
I expected a frightened look
And for her to call the guards instead

She came over to me, placing her hand in mine
“Brace yourself” I said
I spoke an incantation
And we strayed from thought and time

At last we came upon a field of roses
Of all variety they were
Their mingled scent
Became a feast for our noses

I watched her stray through this paradise
With each new beauty
Her face lit up
As she devoured it all with her eyes

She turned to me and asked, “Where did you find this place?”
I looked into her eyes
“I made it for you.”
I said as the pride and love shown on my face

“The Law states life giving is restricted to my father, the King.”
She was taken aback
I clasped her hands in mine and said
“For you, my princess, I would do anything.”

I knew not whether it was the fates that had heard my wish
And I cared not
For she peered deep in my eyes
And drew me into her soul with her tender kiss

Happiness filled my heart the likes of which not known before
This one meeting and kiss
Proved not enough
We needed each other, that and nothing more

Many a time we held hands and clutched one another
Love such as ours
Could not be contained by two souls
And she wanted me to make her a mother

Not late after we bound ourselves in marriage
Now it was fitting
For my wife and I
To let our love spill out into a carriage

It was the greatest night in all my memory
The passion between us
So strong it was
It seemed to change the scenery

When I entered my beloved, the trees began to dance
Flowers blossomed
The moon shone brightest
It was as if all living in my realm were living their last

Time and again I used my powers to come to my lover’s room
I spent many hours
Kissing her belly
Loving so much the child she carried in her womb

It was on one such night, this I will never forget
I was holding my love
When sounds at the door roused my ear
And I felt my brow begin to grow wet

Guards broke down the door and tried to seize me
Strike many, I did, with my powers
But only to be with my love at peace
That, and that alone, would suffice and appease me

Great in number they were, it was only a matter of time
I should have been aware
Not with even my amassed power and wisdom
Could I see the one that crept towards me from behind

He struck such a blow as to bring me to the ground
All of one moment did it take
They gagged me
And my legs and arms did they bound

Outside was my love and I both carried
Our union was forbidden
And more anger bred in the King
To learn with his daughter I was married

The King deemed her presence to be breeder sin
He ordered her destroyed
He wanted to keep his kingdom pure
Even if the price of which was to murder his own kin

I screamed with all my being, as she was set aflame
She was lost to me
As was the child she carried
I sunk, weeping, as I knew where to place blame

Her agonizing wails echoed through my mind
I had no time to mourn
They seized my devastated form
And again took my arms and legs to bind

I was ordered to watch my paradise burn
Bound in chains
My beloved’s garden now in ruin
The King’s last act of jealous spurn

They scorched the soil, ravaged every tree
It was decreed to burn
For all time
Soot and flame for the whole of eternity

Now I sit upon a throne of ash and fire
The fruits of my labor
Punishment for love
For challenging my vengeful sire

And of all I have learned from the One Above
The most important without a doubt
Is that an angel knows no hatred, anger
And apparently, no love

(February, 2004)

Posted in Poetry

Lines in the Sand

“Hold up your peace sign
Better hope it’s bulletproof
‘Cause there’s people out there
Afraid to live under their own roof
Pull your head out of the sand
And put your nose in the Folgers
Take a look out the window
Here come the soldiers
Fighting for you, fighting for me
Fighting for your right to hold up that sign
Without them, you’d be speaking German
‘Cause of them, what’s yours is yours and what’s mine is mine.”

“What’s your solution?
Your answers are bullets and bombs
Weapons care not for who they hit
Who’s going to die next?  Whose father? Whose mom?
Seems all we know
Is how to sprinkle a little hate
But of course we have to be big and bad
Damn the consequences, damn our fate
Take a look at all we’ve done
Open your eyes to the true horror, the worst crime
All we know how to do is monger
And help gravedigger’s rack up the overtime.”

“I can’t believe the words I’m hearing
‘Cause what you’re dubbing my solutions
Is what the enemy calls child’s play
We’ve proposed too many chances, too many ‘resolutions’
We know, at least, where the battle lines lie
The enemy’s hatred is without discrimination
For he strikes out at his own people
And merrily poisons his own nation
Of course you have to gasp and point
Condemn us for every life that we’ve taken
But had we not intervened
Millions of innocents would be forsaken.”

“Can’t you open your eyes?
Why is it you can’t you see?
Point isn’t who’s to blame
For when lives are lost, NONE show responsibility
Doesn’t matter who’s flag’s on the bombs
Or what name you call God
All of your race, religion, creed
Gets reduced to a bloody wad
Ask yourself if all the wars won
All the dead children, husbands, and wives
Is all that glory
Worth more than ANY of those lives?”

(December, 2003)

Posted in Poetry

The Sucker

The water runs black off my hands

To keep my conscience clean

I search in the mirror for a good man

Not knowing what that means

My back twists and breaks

Bowing to time like a withered old tree

Deep and dark like an ancient lake

Thoughts yearning to be free

Dust falls off my knees with every step

Lines growing deeper across my face

I cling to what pride I’ve kept

Desperate for it all to stop in place

Haunted by the trickle of the sand

Dogged by the second hand’s ticking

When is it time to take a stand?

Are these the right battles I’ve been picking?

More and more of me is asked

As the years come faster and faster

Coats of paint stripped from a mask

Revealing life’s one true master

Is this the face that I’ve earned?

Have the scales balanced to find the just?

Is this the sum of all I’ve learned?

Am I destined to be more than dust?