America the Dutiful

In the Land of the Fleeced and the Home of the Slave
Where the cowed and the buffaloed moan
Where seldom we find an inquisitive mind
And the people pay up with a groan

While at home on the range when the firing begins
Not a word of encouragement sounds
The temp workers leave for their other day jobs
And the cops and the guards make their rounds

When the rich ones start wars that the poor have to fight
And the chickenhawks glare as they cluck
The recruiters hold raffles and promise the moon
In the neighborhoods down on their luck

Where the clouds hang around for the length of the day
Casting shadows and fear all around
A lost mother grieves and starts haunting the land
Having just laid her son in the ground

As the war against someone somewhere at some time
Never quite seems to end or conclude
War itself becomes reason for having this war
Leaving no room for thought to intrude

Unreported out west by vacationing scribes
Seeking rest from Access Mentalpause
The tombstones in Aspen turn up all at once
Having roots that connect with their cause

Now the Fig Leaf Contingent has answered the call
From a time long ago it's returned
Once again to buy time for the guilty to mime
More excuses for lives that they've burned

So the dead really died so that more dead can die
Goes the "logic" that once more holds sway
Understanding, the Fig Leaf Contingent steps up,
Packs its gear and then marches away

Late at night out on runway strips hidden and dark
Where the citizens can't see what shocks
The Contingent comes "home" one-by-one, all alone,
In a wheelchair or flag-covered box

So the long-promised "victory" ever recedes
As the Fig Leaf Contingent fights on
Keeping faith with the faithless who've ordered its doom
Like a poorly schooled chess player's pawn

In the dutiful land of the fruitcakes and nuts
Where the sun shines between the two seas
The hills in their lavender majesty stand
Unaffected by men's howling pleas

For to go with no reason where no purpose calls
Leads to nothing but more of the same
Till the Fig Leaf Contingent's utility fails
To deflect any more of the blame

And since something was lost surely someone has failed
Only whom could those proud persons be?
Not the chickenhawks glaring and clucking for war!
Not the neo-new, know-nothing "we"!

As the first mate harpooner admonished his crew
In the mad Captain Ahab's vast tale
He would not have along for a ride in his boat
Any man not afraid of a whale

For the ocean is great and my ship is so small
And the winds blow beyond all command
Only fools and the drowned ever this truth forget
Which is why they should stay on dry land

But the day-trippers out for a float on the pond
Seldom think of the perilous shoals
So they send off the Fig Leaf Contingent to fight
Absent only some well-defined goals

Thus they played on TV what in real life demands
More than Hobbits, and Wizards, and Elves
And they taught us our duty much better by far
Than they put into practice themselves

So we've come back again from our exile abroad
With our tattered ranks bitter and sore
Having done what our Maximum Leader would not
All of that and a hundred times more

We are here `cause we're here `cause we're here `cause we're here
And for no other reason on earth
But for us in the Fig Leaf Contingent, we know
What our duty and honor are worth

So we will not abandon to memory's hole
Those we loved and who loved us in turn
Still we go to our graveyards secure in our trust
That America never will learn

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright 2005