The Misfortune Teller ("The Tipping Point Turns the Corner")

The Tipping Point Turns the Corner

Around the next corner the tipping point turns
As the good ship capsizes and sinks
While the mad metaphors and flawed figures of speech
Guarantee that no one really thinks

So the dots get connected with crayon lines drawn
By the journalists flogging clichés
Like astrologers linking the stars into shapes
Telling fortunes as long as it pays

At the end of the tunnel the dominoes fall
As the oil spots to flypaper stick
With his boots on, George Custer fights to the last man
Making even the strong stomach sick

As they stood up, we stood down -- just not right away
With our shoulders to shoulders we marched
When the morning came corpses piled up in the morgues
Like some laundry loads unwashed and starched

Like the city that shines on the top of a hill
With a thousand or more points of light
Now the current flows only an hour a day
So in sweltering blackness they fight

They've a government, now, freely chosen at last
By the parties that somehow had won
Our ambassador, though, had to choose their PM
When we didn't like what they had done

Sure, they can't leave the Green Zone without getting killed
Our officials, too, travel by plane
Sneaking into and out of the country unseen
By the people who think us insane

But he won't cut and run says the man who ain't there
From his purpose he swears he won't swerve
"Bring 'em on!" taunts the juvenile joker in jeans
Clearing brush on his Texas preserve

As the world watched in horror, he drove off a cliff
Then he stumbled around in a daze
Now he says – after three years of chaos and death –
That he might have misused a trite phrase

"It's as easy as shootin' a bird in a cage,"
Says the Texas stud hamster of quail
When the rodents ride roughshod the feathered will flee
From the drunken dudes gone off the trail

And we've got us some mantras from Vietnam days
Like "we're there 'cause we're there 'cause we're there"
So when once we go somewhere, that means we can't leave
Like that German boot-planting affair

And the logic swirls faster in circles that swim
Like our friends won't respect a retreat
See, they'd rather we kept acting stupid and blind
Till we wind up a pile of dead meat

And our foes will not fear us if we should act smart
Which assumes that they fear us when dumb
An American innocence, surely, that comes
From a depth that you simply can't plumb

The octopus fascist sings swan songs sedate
Reinventing the same words and tune
So the president babbles of going to Mars
When we can’t even get to the Moon

Like the light of an oncoming train in the dark
We see hopefulness ever draw near
We're on track, can't you see, to a glorious dawn
So we'll stay the curse, never you fear

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright © 2006