Better Lies

Tomorrow I will tell better lies,

ones that are fit to wrap around the truth.

You can’t serve up just the facts.

That would be too cold.

No, you must warm it up,

add spice, distort it,

so not even you can recognize

exactly what you are talking about.


Every day I practice at being nothing.

I sit or stand or lay on the ground

and disappear into air and silence.

Those who walk by ignore me

as I ignore myself,

my value less than a bug on the wall,

a stain on the ceiling,

a sliver of cellophane carried in the wind.

I work at it. Work so hard

that my knuckles bleed in the snow

while a thousand miles away

my toes drift senseless in the ocean.

One day, with luck, I’ll achieve

all that is, all that ever was,

and know how little I am

and how little any of it was.

Somewhere in the middle

There are things I do

that I shouldn’t,

and things I write

that I should not.

Ah, we are born perfect.

Someone said so.

But others have said

we are born flawed.

It is only natural,

since we exist in nature,

that I should be

both good and bad 

and all that is in between.

It is all there on the graph,

the bell curve

of human behavior.

The comedy, the tragedy, 

the horror,

along with all the mundane

that makes up most of the story.

Doing what we must

Poetry won’t stop bullets.

It won’t stop grief.

It won’t stop humans

from being beasts.

It does make life and death

and the stuff between

sound better, read or said,

than wails and screams,

and the thud 

of lead and fists and rods

into luckless flesh.

Words must be said

for the dead.

Tradition dictates so.

Make that final recitation

ring of heaven, fate, change.

Then begin the real prayer,

the one you and I must live,

day and night until the end

of what has been with us

from the beginning

of words and men and need

for this or that,

or just more, 

and more

and more

of the needless same.

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