No Exit
(From The Triumph of Strife: an homage to Dante Alighieri and Percy Shelley)

“Well, let’s get on with it,” Garcin suggests
Since “Hell is other people,” not a place
The motor of our madness never rests

But turns forever at a deadly pace,
Its hum narcotic, hypnotizing those
Who join us in our violent disgrace

To look for “leaders” in a scripted pose:
Some “body language” threateningly mute
That speaks no words, but yet our brains has froze

The language of the lizard, thoughts confute
Short-circuiting the mammal cortex new
Appealing to the ancient fearful brute

Who has conceptions: lurid, crude, and few
But only such as turn the hurtful screw

Now “Help is on the way,” Dick Cheney grins
Implying that “the troops” require more aid
While planning in his secrecy some sins

That soon would leave the soldiers more afraid
Of any scheme this cretin might announce
Which they see in the grim gravedigger’s spade

“Assistance” that they’d just as soon renounce
Preferring to escape this “market law”
Since they upon such “profit” cannot pounce

Or, like the friends of Dick and Dubya, paw
At loot from crimes these perpetrators sought
Exempted by some retroactive law

Successors’ hands they’ve either tied or bought
With golden cufflinks forged by those who fought

The enemy, we’ve met – and it is us
No greater foe have we to fear or fight
And yet, so far, we do not rate a plus

For having other than myopic sight
When looking at what stares us in the face:
A glaring flaw that we perceive as “might”

Induces us our reason to misplace,
Conserving “old” that can’t abide the “young”
While naming “novel” that which must deface

To mask the ancient, sterile, venal tongue
That adds no thing but only snarls and bites
At echoes that from its own mouth have sprung

Seductive like all weakness, war invites
The fool to see reflection that he smites

Thus in this sparsely furnished room we sit
With one eye on each other of us three
In thrall to atavism’s timeless fit

Compelled by what we neither know nor see
A scene so perfect that it seems designed
Yet so arranged as never to break free

From all the tired clichés that we’ve maligned
As they have us, since habit substitutes
For any logic, reasoned or aligned

Which might intrude, suggesting other routes
That we might take out of Forever’s cave
But we prefer the cunning that computes

Advantage, so our good intentions pave
The road to Hell’s cramped room in which we rave...

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