Flogging a Flawed Figure of Speech
(From The Triumph of Strife: an homage to Dante Alighieri and Percy Shelley)

The ghosts of Vietnam return once more
To goad the greedy grasping globalists
With all the slogans that we used before

To dig a labyrinth of turns and twists
To make a maze both meaningless and mad
Of phrases gerrymandered of their gists

Desultory “debate” a futile fad,
Concocting crap from muddled metaphors
No better than the other ones we’ve had

Which couldn’t tell the ceilings from the floors;
As in a vicious vortex venom flows
And seeps in through the windows and the doors:

Those “flypaper” and “oil-spot” “dominoes”
In “final,” frantic, flailing, failing “throes.”

Sage pundits, though, see nothing here amiss
Like lawyers they can argue either way
Like snakes that think to rattle or to hiss

And then do both and neither in a play
Of words like knee-jerk whips that wildly work
To stampede, swindle, stun, or simply sway;

That tug on heartstrings with a yank or jerk
Bypassing mammal cortex thought to get
Below the surface where the lizards lurk

Primordial and primitive but yet
Still dominant in domiciles where dupes
Sit mesmerized before the TV set

Or wired in undecided focus groups
Reactive reptiles; mindless monkey troupes

Our commentators, Orwell said, survive
Much like astrologers connecting hopes
Mistakes they make aplenty yet they thrive

Dispensing dime-store drivel to the dopes
Who wish for confirmation of their dreams
While pummeled to a pulp upon the ropes

By government that only lies and schemes
Protecting power for the Party’s sake
Impervious to mounting moans and screams

Intent upon their own share of the take
The Nanny Press pontificators ply
Their frauds: fantastic, fabulous, and fake

While foreign folk and our own soldiers die
Our scribblers scrawl much less than meets the eye

They sniffle: “we are there” as if that sends
A cut-off note to stop debate in need
Of “turning points” and “lights” at tunnel-ends

In arguments as slender as a reed
Non sequiturs, red herrings, and canards:
The simple, sloppy, shabby straw-man screed

Divining “fortune” in some Tarot cards
Predicting future “blood baths” if we leave
Ignoring bloody inches, feet, and yards

In which we bathe the natives while they grieve
A fluffy fable’s faulty fife and flute
A tortured tune of losses to retrieve

From disquisition damned to render moot
Discussion of just where to place the boot

“We’re there,” they say, “because we’re there because
We’re there because we’re there because we’re there”
Nor must we for a single moment pause

To note the lawyer’s trick meant to impair
The power of the jury to reflect
On flimsy, flabby, flatulent hot air

A bogus case that reason would reject:
A monstrous question begging to conclude
Its self as “proven” by what it had wrecked

The chance to utilize an interlude:
An interregnum of intelligence;
A rare rest where some thinking could intrude

To tame a truculent intransigence:
A bloody lust for brute belligerence

Caught in the cyclone’s circularity:
A threadbare tautological typhoon;
A humbug hurricane’s insanity

Reducing logic to a senile swoon
All thought into reaction thus compressed
An empty endless “war” against the moon

With nothing known but only something guessed
Which sounds all right if no one looks too close
At what amounts to fascism repressed

Which seethes beneath the rhetoric verbose
Exploiting while disguising that which ails:
Conflicted, crass conundrums comatose

Like dogs that chase their disappearing tails
A dialectic dodge that seldom fails

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright © 2006-2010