The Lamentations of Phileas the Lesser
I lay awake in the dead of night.
She came and took me by the hand,
Raised me up to a wondrous sight,
the beauteous dread out upon desert sand.
The Milky Way’s starry glory overhead;
I wished she’d left me alone, awake abed.
I told her this was not for me and
Would she, please, take me home.
She clutched me tightly, carried me away.
Slid a single step, assembled me and sundry others
Out upon shiny, slippery ice, bright day.
It melted beneath our feet, water to smother,
As the glacier shrank smaller in our ice-blind vision,
Knew we’d waited overlong on this decision.
We rubbed our eyes and whined awhile,
Told her this was not where we belonged.
She ignored our complaints, whisked us on,
Through searing darkness, limned in crimson,
Into the roar of raging fires, burning all around,
north, south, east and west, in all lands.
We screamed fear into terror, made no sound.
Many fight valiantly; the inferno expands.
Trees, lives greedily gobbled by that massive maw.
We offered prayers, hopes and money for their pain.
What they had endured should break a law.
We lamented their plight; we chose to abstain,
Forgot them, their problem not ours to solve.
We demanded that she send us home.
With neither a stutter nor a stumble
She hounded us to hurry onward.
We sped through night and day, mumbled,
Sloshed through storms, driven toward
Horror and destruction beyond imagination.
Yet, we pretended it was normal; we saw
It every day, on every device and station.
Her ignorance stuck in our craw.
Still, the waters rose, without remorse.
As people, cities drowned around us,
Gone in moments, with no recourse.
We had seen it, seen it all, such a fuss,
On screens, laptops, tablets, phones
and in our heads, as we our tech became.
Exhausted, we imbibed, weary to the bone,
took selfies, pictures of our food, sought fame.
Watched cute puppies, kittens, nothing dread,
To make us laugh, well, smile at least.
Our world had gone mad, we said,
Or we had, strangers at our own feast.
Our needs remained unfulfilled, we paid,
Ignored them, continued searching.
We told her this was not for us and
Urged her to fly us somewhere dry.
She complied without complaint,
Though we wondered why until
Our next step, thought it a feint,
winged us to land drought and famine killed.
Nothing grew; we strained but heard
Nothing in the sound of constant wind.
We knew such places, to be feared,
thrust upon us every day, like we’d sinned.
We signed petitions, gave money, plus….
What more did they expect from us?
We averted our eyes, refused any blame.
She carried us leagues away, to find
The heat of war, the smell of death, shame.
Hard-pressed, rendered deaf and blind,
Benumbed by a blasts of sound and light.
Crack! This horrid vision burned into our brains,
Echoing in our ears, our eyes, a bleeding blight,
Violent death of hope, promise, potential reigns.
Memory, yours, you young women and men,
Tender tinder, savaged by Ares swift lightning,
Smashed beneath his heavy boots, again.
Polished by the blood of innocents, fighting
to murder babies, children, parents, grandparents,
buried mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, all.
Here a thing we wanted, quite transparent,
something for which ours and yours must fall,
leaving only ruinous death and dark rubble behind.
I wondered if such carnage, in-the-flesh,
Could soften our hearts, clear our minds,
Nothing like what we heard in the press.
What little hope of this I had, I hid,
We drove her from this venue, sharpened knives.
She led us into colossal cities, dirty, fetid,
Where people lived brutal, desperate lives.
In groups, families, or alone. We sneered,
turned up our noses and hurried past,
As we did daily, whenever them we neared,
In our rush to jobs, first to third and last.
Jobs that rarely fulfill, with pay too meager
To fill most basic needs, to merely maintain.
We witnessed ourselves scurrying for lucre,
To hold our lives together, seams strained.
We fight despair, don’t know what we can do.
We go to bed and rise, depressed and drained
We knew this was not for us, it was home
And we already did our best to ignore it.
We’d help, but it’s too painful, too spare.
Battering news of people who suffer and die,
Forgotten, with neither succor nor care.
We know we should do something. Why
Is silence our answer? Too stunned to speak,
Inundated and overwhelmed by tragedy.
Ever more desperate, we view our devices, freak,
starved for anything other than our reality,
Though, we’re always shown so much worse.
We yearn for distraction, more than
A drunk yearns for drink, a junkie’s needle curse.
We are as addicted as any woman or man,
Constantly probing an absence, a phantom
Pain, we can neither escape nor block.
We pretend it’s not our problem, this agony.
We flick the screen to sports, check our stock.
Those we abandon, come to hate us, no plea,
As we come to hate ourselves; in hell.
We have only us to blame for our travesty.
We must think those people other, well,
Not like us, so we can destroy their identity,
Along with their homes and lives.
We blame them, deny them, tell them flee
If they dare cross our imaginary line, arrive.
We name them the problem, in our need
To convince ourselves it is not us, our fears.
We mask our faces, with solid obsidian
And stick our fingers deep into our ears.
She knows this is not for us, not us.
She smiles and motions us to come outside.
Yet, we remain in the dark, heads bowed down,
Willing supplicants to our flickering god,
Our inner AI, which claims to wear the crown.
Though our idol may soothe us, as we plod,
We walk alone, bear our pain and seek release.
Still, this pervasive, cacophonous silence,
Is a harsh jailer which we must sue for peace,
We squandered our fortunes, no recompense.
Peace is Purpose, Nonviolence is Strength, Diversity is Unity, Empathy is Empowerment