Tag Archives: poverty

South of Richmond

Every other billboard

literally every other billboard

along a one mile stretch of I-95

just south of Richmond, Virginia

is for the Army National Guard

The others are for God,


and the Navy Federal Credit Union.

This is God’s country

and if God loves anything

its giving poor kids

a false sense of hope

in a better future

before sending them

to kill other poor kids

who have no hope

of any future.







Ala Moana

Looking down

at the street below

from this 14th floor

hotel window

I see the sidewalk

where my family sleeps

if God is real

I hope it weeps

for what society

has become

we don’t see our sister

just another bum.


Her heart was broken

soul almost dead

she needs more

than just some bread…

She needs a friend

she needs a brother

she needs family

when she asked me

for some change

I saw humanity.


So I changed my destination

from the local jazz club

to the ABC store

to buy her some grub

and as she ate a turkey sandwich

a tear came to her eye

she stared at me a minute

and then asked me why?


“I see my wife, sister, and mother

when I look at you

and all these people passing by

would stop

if they only knew

how much you’re hurting

how much you need a friend

take one step at a time

you’re heart will start to mend

bend but do not break

and take a look around

you were forsaken and alone

but sister, you’ve been found”


And I’m drowning in the silence

in between her words

spread your wings and fly, sister

just like the birds.

You’re a goddess

you’re Ohana

I just wish you knew

imagine heaven and you’ll have it

soon, your pain will be through.

You are not a bad person

but life dealt you a bad hand

in solidarity with you, sister

right here I’ll stand.

Standing Rock


Standing on this rock

all alone

looking glass shattered

can’t find home

can’t escape sticks

and stones thrown

by a falling Rome

names don’t hurt

when Redskins flirt

with victory

the Missouri doesn’t flow

to the sea

it flows through you

and me

don’t close your heart

or bury your eyes

need you to see

through lies

they dig treasure


like Fort Knox

it should remain locked

and rock



they’ll cut off

our feet

so we can’t stand

but they want us

to salute

while they shoot

our mother

in the back

rape her dying body

and blame it on Iraq

and blame it all on black

rigging the roulette wheel

impovershed kids deal

but Uncle Sam still cooks

the crack

and he still looks

like dad

so we think

he can’t possibly be

this bad

but have you seen

what he’s done

to Baghdad?

and Oklahoma shakes

but the cowboys are glad

to have those jobs,


and we drive our cars

and we leave on the light

all night

because we’re afraid

of boogeymen

and we ain’t got healthcare

or a nickel to lend

and we stay up nights

fighting with spouses

in our shitty clapboard

bank-owned houses

while the cat

chases mice

and our kids

all have lice

and wouldn’t it be nice

if we weren’t playing dice

with the planet

polluting the water

that we need for life

we’re cutting

our mother’s heart out

with a knife

made in China

and bought at a Walmart

in North Carolina

and will Kaepernick kneel

at the Panthers game

and will the results

all be the same

if he speaks about war

and about mother earth

will we say ‘just play ball’

will we cite his net worth?

as if that should negate

the things that he says,

will he take a stand

for those stuck on the rez

and if he does

will the team let him go

and will you speak up

before the oil flows

as the crows cry out

for what they have seen

or will you check your stocks

and count your green

and post a meme

about right

and wrong

or will you numb

your conscience

and sing along?

Fall starts today

but winter is coming

if you take two of these

it should help with

the numbing…

Break The Silence

My hands are red

from blood thats shed

my tongue was bitten

another is dead


Betrayed with silence

for too many years

time now to break

from all the fear


Slavery ended

so too Jim Crow

but we quietly watched

the prisons grow…


selective enforcement

of man made laws

now we watch cops kill

without just cause


Another one tonight

and another tomorrow

as I turn out the light

my heart fills with sorrow


because of this empire built

on the backs of slaves

that is putting their children

in early graves…


We pay our taxes

and we wave our flags

we buy the bullets

and the body bags


as we all just sit back

and watch TV

pledging our allegience

while our neighbors can’t breathe…


We pretend that its liberty

and justice for all

but when the cops are killing,

who do you call?


Where do you go

and what do you do

and who will break the silence

if it happens to you?


Martin Luther King’s dream

still hasn’t come true

there’s a long way to go

for the red, white, and blue


War on

war on terror

war on drugs

war on poverty

we need a war

on hugs

because war

creates more


and drugs

and millions

of poor

and we need more love

and we need less war

and we’ve seen it all before

back when we were

the tired,

the hungry,

the poor,

finding outstretched


and open


as we washed up

from foriegn shores

but now the doors

have locks

and war

has become a stock

and the temperature rises

and there are fewer surprises

just poverty

or prison

or mission accomplished

and fifteen years later

the war on terror

has been

its biggest


this blowback

bringing attacks

leading to attacks

and computer hacks

have shown

that uncle sam has known

all along

that violence

is the wrong answer

like a doctor

treating cancer

caused by cancer

with more cancer

and you dont

have to be

a dancer

to know

that they tip-toe

all around the truth

and tap dance

to steal the show

and we’re strung out

and starving

but our money goes

to more


and your sisters on

her third tour

in Afghanistan

where the poppies grow

and you wont pass go

you’ll go

directly to jail

when you piss hot

and fail the test…

and its time we put

these wars to rest

give the poor

the best chance

to survive

stop fueling terror

so it cant thrive

and stop viewing addicts

any different than drunks

at the local dive…

and remember,

drunks at the local dive

are no better

or worse than you

and me

and not everyone can find

nine to five

but around the world

we all deserve

to be free




Daily Memories

so, it’s Memorial Day



and I remember

when Cub Scout packs

would take up the back

of the parade

and families would struggle

to find shade

along Main Street

in late May

with temperatures rising

we shuffled our feet

to the beat

of drums

back when

Vietnam Vets

were still

considered bums

by the Veterans

of the second great war

and, oh say

I can see more

Cub Scouts

getting ready to be

all that they can


and I can clearly


children being recruited

young minds being polluted

memorize these lines

pledge your allegiance

and fall in line

and left



and it’s time

to fight

now set your sights

on brown skin

and although it’s killing

its not a sin

and I command you

ten more push-ups

and hurry the hell up

and wait

and this is your fate

a decade down

the line


and lime

drink these memories


far away

far away

far away

its Memorial Day

and if you fail

to come home a hero

in a flag draped casket

there will be mattress sales

and a shopping basket

at the grocery store

you can fill with





and wine

and liquor

to wash away

the war

to wash away

the pain

to wash away

the years

shift through

the gears

back to first grade

back when you first made

up your mind

that we were

the good guys

you could see it

in the weary eyes

of the soldiers

getting off the plane

at Westover

after Amy

and Sarah

invited you to join them

and their parents

in their minivan

for a drive to Chicopee

to see

the returning men

and women

standing tall

and looking good…

and I understood

what I had to do

as I stood there

in my Cub Scout hat

and K-Mart shoes

and waved

a miniature American flag

looking back now,

I take a drag

and remember

a decade later

when we were given

miniature American flag

stickers to stick

on the front

of our football helmets

during the first week

of our senior year

and we did so proudly

but full of fear

in the days following


and fifteen years later

we still haven’t won

whatever we were

supposed to win

and if I were still


I would call it a


what we did

in the years

that followed

following all that

nightly news


we swallowed

like bitter pills

from the VA

and now

once again

it’s Memorial Day

but it’s not a day

to remember…

its become a day

to celebrate


and ignore the embers

still smoldering

from the people

and cultures

we’re burning

to the ground


never to be


and, while a few

of us

are yearning

for an end

to this

endless madness

while struggling through

this endless sadness

too many

keep turning

blind eyes

every day

as the hawk flies

and Lady Liberty


not knowing

what to say



So, after you drive

your brand new car

home from the mattress store

try to remember

we’re still at war…

and as you wash down

your burgers

with too many beers

dont be afraid

to shed a few tears

for the nearly two dozen veterans

who will kill themselves today

as they do daily

and if I become a number

like them

dont blame me

it was my Uncle Sam

who failed me

as he failed

every last one

of his nieces

and nephews

abusing his power

abusing us all

please teach your children

the truth

so they refuse to fall

in line

and make the same mistake

that so many of us did

when we were just







American kids






Red, White & Blues

Kids play

cowboys and Indians

grow into men and women play

Muslims and Christians

hooked on Red Man

chewing tobacco

and American Spirit


and t-shirt tans

fade to skin cancer

for white farmers

fresh out of the army

no sun


calls from Bollywood


peace pipe smoking

dancing on fire



old blues musicians

run aground fleeing

Big Easy

sleezy politicians

can’t feel the music

never had the


haven’t got a



right and wrong



long after we’re gone

they’ll sing the same old


from Mississippi

to Chicago

all the way down to New Orleans

still they sing

sea to shining

see massive inequality

singing the blues

in Ferguson, Missouri

in Oakland,

in Baltimore,

and in NYC

and in America today

Uncle Sam’s hands

still drip



and you can only breathe

if you’re


and countless



still have the


still treated like property

still shot like

dogs in the street

shots ring out and

cops choke-holding


murdering justice

in the summer heat

and cold of winter

black faces turn


can’t breathe

suffocated like Iraqis

got the


turn off the news

channels don’t matter


hands still



from indigenous holocaust



from backs of slaves

in shallow graves

stripped of humanity

no different

than the eighteen-fifties

brainwash kids

to pledge blind faith

and allegiance

we kill without reason

kill for America

the beauty-less


of a nation

from administration

to administration




& Obama

no different than

George Washington

all cloaked in Caesars’ clothes


concentration camps

for American citizens

of Japanese descent

do the Ku Klux


dance for Uncle Sam

we’re his nephews

and nieces

selling our souls now

just to pay rent

on stolen land


we won’t stand

for your anthem

we got the



& blues

and with nothing left

we got nothing to lose


pockets full of


is more than

a campaign slogan

believe in


we are millions


and our songs

are no longer

just the


they are battle hymns

we beat war drums


but we come in peace

so don’t bother calling

the police

there’s nothing they can do

we no longer fear you

and we’re through

pledging our allegiance

to a blood drenched rag

you can kill most of us

but you’ll run out

of body bags

before we give up

we’ll keep turning

other cheeks

like Dr. King

and that bastard carpenter

from Nazareth

we’ll only raise our fists

in solidarity

and fight with our minds

and spirits

until the end

of time,

fight with

art and music,

war drums

so loud they’ll hear it

on Capitol Hill,

they can spill our blood

but generation

after generation

we’ll take to the streets

sing justice

to the beat of

our own drums

but for now

we sing the



& blues…



and Christians

all wishing now

that Abraham was an atheist

and Columbus had been aborted,

things haven’t been

sorted out

for so long

it’s all

long been

so wrong

from Plymouth

to Wounded Knee

to Korea

to Vietnam

to Hawaii

and Bikini Atoll,

it has all taken its toll

but still they call


and kids run

out of the projects

and off farms

and we never meant anybody


we had good intentions

but that’s not enough

as Uncle Sam starts


after Vietnam

after Vietnam…

and if you dare

sound the alarm

they’ll silence you

one way

or another,

lock you up,

or pickle you with pills

and distill you

with whiskey and Budweiser,

drive you to

the edge

then play taps

and hand your mom a flag

to dry her tears,

don’t talk about

what you


no evil

hear no

cries for help

for the helpless

dress right

dress you down

now you’re sounding




like you seen a ghost,

lets raise a toast

to the father,


and daughter

melting drunk

onto VFW barstools

like fish

in toxic water,

regretting they survived,

ready to die

but still they go on

singing the blues

different versions

of an age old tune

drunk and out of key

more and more depressed

each day


the younger

and younger


melting drunk

onto the barstools

singing the



& blues…

I got the



& blues…

Turn off the news.

I got the



& blues.

My hands are red,

my flag is white,

I got the blues.

The bank took my house,

my dog ran away,

but even if I were gay

I could kill Muslims now too…

Three-cheers for equality

from sea to shining sea

we’ve got

the illusion that we’re free

an illusion of equality,

but no justice

the world over,

and no peace,

what would Dr. King think?

I heard what he said

at Riverside

one year to the day he died…

No, it ain’t all

peaches and cream,

we’re in a losing battle

against a machine…

so, I got the blues.

I got the

American empire

crushed my hopes

and dreams,

killed my spirit

and stole my soul,

so now I got to go,



& Blues.