Hothouse Orchids
(From The Triumph of Strife: an homage to Dante Alighieri and Percy Shelley)

So too with all the others of this kind
Concerned with just themselves and their careers
Who play at war with only this in mind:

To entertain the mob and hear its cheers.
For when they could have served and fought and learned
They hit the gas instead and shifted gears

Bypassing lessons better men had earned
Prolonging thus their adolescent years.
Yet never having all for which they yearned,

The corners of their mouths connect their ears,
So broad their grins in hopes of votes to buy
Just like the Cheshire cat that disappears

Behind a smile substantial as a sigh.
Their empty words live on while soldiers die.

Like crocodiles they practice crying tears
Till they can shed them from a single eye:
An ersatz empathy to mask the fears

That glassy, shining, saucer eyes belie:
Their plan to rush ahead and celebrate
A victory they’ll win when pigs can fly

Has only turned to mourning now that fate
Has served us broken eggshells for a meal
And eaten all the lunch upon our plate

While leaving them to consummate a deal
For omelets promised off a menu fake.
Our soldiers suffer agonies too real

While those in charge continue on the take
And “leaders” off the top the profits rake.

So as our blood and money drain away
In torrents sinking into desert sands
She ponders which new pose to strike today

And urges war on hapless foreign lands
To demonstrate how chicken hawks can cluck
While grabbing cash and limply shaking hands

Oblivious to soldiers vainly stuck
In quagmires authorized by this vain hack
Who daily finds new ways to pass the buck.

With heels worn round from lying on her back
And lips chapped raw from lying when upright
She hides from each imagined new attack

Too weak to wage the peace in her own right
But always strong for someone else’s fight.

An image of irresolute intrigue
She offers up herself somewhere in line.
No mighty branch but just a slender twig,

She dithers while our monarch’s friends consign
Our freedoms to more hot air overblown.
Obsessed with sewer sailors who malign

Her party’s past no matter how it shone
She promises to settle in advance
For any scrap of meat from off the bone,

And then proceeds read her true romance:
A plan for how to satisfy her greed
While those who perish get no second chance.

Our frantic warnings she chose not to heed.
If only we’d decide then she would “lead.”

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